HC Deb 27 July 1960 vol 627 cc1694-5

Lords Amendment: In page 62, line 28, after "there" insert: and that it is in the interests of the patient to remove him,

Mr. Galbraith

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Hon. Members will recollect that a somewhat similar Amendment was resisted at an earlier stage of the Bill. What we were afraid of then was that the words in the interests of the patient might have to be construed rather narrowly and might require my right hon. Friend to be satisfied that the standards of psychiatric treatment in the patient's own country were not only satisfactory, but were as high as anything which existed in this country. After further careful consideration, we have however decided that the words: in the interests of the patient can be construed rather more broadly so that it would be proper for my right hon. Friend not only to have regard to the standards of psychiatric treatment, but also to more general factors such as the benefit which would accrue to the patient from being among his own people. In light of this reconsideration, we now feel that we can accept the words originally proposed by the Opposition.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

We on this side of the House welcome the acceptance of this Amendment, which was moved in the Lords by one of my noble Friends. It is interesting to listen to the reasons now adduced by the Joint Under-Secretary to show why the House should accept the Amendment. I remember the long debate we had in Committee and the feelings that were forcibly expressed by the Joint Under-Secretary. The reasons given then were not that perhaps the psychiatric treatment available, say, in China—that was the country referred to by the Joint UnderSecretary—might not be as good as in our country and that, therefore, the patient could not be sent back. They were not the reasons adduced, but I am sorry to say that financial reasons were in the main adduced that morning in Committee.

On Report we felt that we should try some other way. The Secretary of State, who replied to that debate, was in very great difficulty because time after time he used the words: in the interests of the patient and we had to intervene to tell him that those were the very words we had tried to get accepted in Committee but they were not accepted. I am glad, not only for the sake of the patients, but for the sake of the good name of my country, that this Lords Amendment is now proposed, I felt that we were making great improvements in the Bill and that the rejection in Committee of this proposal would bring shame and disgrace on us. I am delighted that the Government at long last saw the light and that when the Amendment was moved in another place it was accepted.

On a previous Amendment, my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) seemed a little annoyed that something had been accepted in the Lords, but that Amendment was one which my hon. Friends had tried to get accepted in Committee and it was moved by the Government in order to meet the points we had made.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Willis

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), I am glad that at last the Government have seen wisdom on this matter. Once again I think that the Joint Under-Secretary might have expressed a little gratitude to hon. Members on this side of the House for their perspicacity in seeing the weakness of the Clause as it stood.

I suggest that there is another lesson to be learned. It is that the hon. Gentleman must not look askance at ideas which come from this side of the House. In the course of time he will find, as he continues to occupy his very high office, that more and more he should rely upon what is said on this side. If he does so, he will get very good Bills.

Question put and agreed to.