HC Deb 30 July 1953 vol 518 cc1507-8
4. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Health whether he will take steps to amend the Mental Deficiency Act or make other arrangements to enable the next-of-kin to be legally represented in appeals to the Board of Control against the making or renewal of detention orders.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Iain Macleod)

I do not think that legislation is needed for this. The Board are always prepared to give interviews to the legal representatives of the next-of-kin of mentally defective patients, as they have always been to the next-of-kin themselves, and to give full consideration to any representations made.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Minister aware that that answer will be greeted with some satisfaction because it was possible to hear in the past that justice was being denied to people in humble circumstances where issues of civil liberties were at stake? Will he do what he can to make it known to the next-of-kin that this right is available to them?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, certainly. I think that this Question and answer will help. The recent case which the hon. and gallant Member has in mind was a protest against the Visitors not receiving counsel representing next-of-kin, but in that particular case the Board of Control did give full attention to the counsel representing the next-of-kin.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is the Minister aware that in many other respects this 40-year-old Act is out-of-line with up-to-date medical thinking? Can he hold out any hope of amending legislation next Session?

Mr. Macleod

I should not like to do that, but I am very conscious that it is important to revise and consolidate the Mental Acts as soon as possible.