HC Deb 03 August 1976 vol 916 cc1585-6

Lords Amendment: No. 30, in page 32, line 15, at end insert new Clause D— D. If an officer of a local authority is appointed as a receiver for a patient in pursuance of section 105 of the Mental Health Act 1959 or, on the nomination of the authority, as the administrator of the estate of a deceased person, the authority may pay to the officer any sum which he becomes liable to pay in consequence of the appointment and may pay the premiums in respect of any policy of insurance for indemnifying the officer from the consequences of any act or omission connected with the appointment which occurs while he holds the appointment.

Mr. Guy Barnett

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

This new clause was inserted in the Bill to meet an undertaking given to my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk), who moved a similar clause in Committee. We could not accept his clause because it was defective in a number of respects, but my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales accepted it in principle and promised to put down a Government amendment to achieve the same result.

The new clause will authorise local authorities to reimburse their officers who act as receivers for mental patients or administrators of estates for any loss incurred by them in either of those capacities.

Mr. Graham Page

I rise only to correct an impression given in another place which appeared to make the amendment too narrow in its aspect. It was said that the amendment would apply almost exclusively to the case where the person entitled to an order, in the case of someone being found mentally unsound, or in the case of a deceased's estate, was a child. The local authority would then step in and take out the order in the place of the child. But this happens in a great number of cases where persons other than children are entitled to an order or where the local authority cannot trace the person concerned. If the authority finds in one of its old people's homes an elderly person who has become of unsound mind and has some property which should be looked after, quite rightly the local authority proposes to the Court of Protection that a receiver should be appointed. It happens more frequently where a relative is not known than in the case of a child being entitled to an order in respect of its parents.

This is an extremly useful clause. It applies only in the case of negligence or misappropriation by an officer of the local authority. If the officer is acting quite properly and happens to make a loss in the estate, he is protected, he being a trustee acting properly for the estate. It is only if he is negligent or deliberately misappropriates a property that the local authority would be entitled under the clause to pay for his wrong-doing. I imagine that local authorities would have an insurance bond in such cases. The clause is far more useful than it was explained to be in another place.

Question put and agreed to.

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