HC Deb 22 July 1957 vol 574 cc19-20
35 Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Health (1)in view of the recommendations by the Royal Commission on Mental Illness and Mental Deficiency that would, if adopted, result in a large number of patients being returned to the community, what consideration is being given to increasing the facilities for training the patients for the rehabilitation period;

(2)in view of the period that must elapse before new legislation can be introduced for the treatment of mental illness, what action he proposes to take to deal with the complaints of wrongful detention and to relax the present regulations regarding allowing mental defectives out on licence;

(3)in view of the recommendations by the Royal Commission on Mental Illness and Mental Deficiency, what action he proposes to take to see that patients in mental intitutions receive better treatment than is now the case and also to curb the present tendency to certify, and so reduce the risks of wrongful detention whilst new legislation is being introduced.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

I am studying the many recommendations made in this report, and the views expressed in the recent debate in this House. In particular, I am considering what can be done by administrative means in advance of legislation.

Mr. Dodds

While appreciating that time must be taken on these important matters, may I ask when the hon. Gentleman hopes to have this business completed? Has he any hope of giving a date when a statement might be made?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

I know the hon. Gentleman's eagerness for action in this matter. I can assure him that my right hon. Friend and I are just as eager for action as soon as it is feasible and possible. We have asked local authorities and the professional bodies concerned for their views by the end of September, which I think is not an unreasonable length of time in view of the complexity of the report. I do not think I could therefore give a definite, phased programme yet. There are certain matters which can be done without legislation, and I am looking into all of them as far as I can to see what steps we can take immediately; but there are several snags.

Dr. Summerskill

Could the Minister satisfy the general public and certain sections of the Press by telling them whether the proportion of the population of mental hospitals who complain of wrongful detention is significant or not?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

I should say the answer is "not". I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for asking that question.