HC Deb 20 January 1949 vol 460 cc305-6
2. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Minister of Health under what conditions patients in mental hospitals are employed on outside work; what steps are taken to see that any such work is conducive to their rehabilitation and that they are not given alcohol when so employed; and whether the agreement of their next-of-kin is obtained.

Mr. Bevan

The conditions are determined by the Medical Superintendent, who decides what is suitable for the patients concerned, and whether they may properly have any alcoholic refreshment. The agreement of the next-of-kin is not obtained, nor is it necessary.

Mr. Greenwood

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask him, so far as the kind of work is concerned, whether he will discourage any repetition of the practice by which until recently mental patients were employed as beaters by the Mid-Essex Coursing Club and caused considerable distress among their fellow patients by their unpleasant descriptions of the sufferings of the hare?

Mr. Bevan

I should have thought myself that if outside activity of this kind is agreeable and good for patients it ought to be undertaken by the institution as part of the healing treatment of the patients and not, incidentally, for somebody else's benefit.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Is it not obvious that some patients from mental hospitals have escaped and are now members of His Majesty's Government?