HL Deb 02 March 1888 vol 323 cc7-9

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that there really was nothing to explain with which the House was not already fully acquainted, the Bill having been passed three times through their Lordships' House without any substantial changes. It would be enough to recall shortly the leading points in the Bill, which were—(1) The introduction of a judicial authority for ordering the detention of a person as a lunatic; (2) orders of detention to come to an end unless renewed; (3) protection to medical men and others against vexatious actions where they have acted in good faith; (4) restrictions on opening new private asylums; (5) various amendments with a view to consolidating the Lunacy Laws. It would be remembered that the Bill was accepted by him from the noble and learned Lord (Lord Herschell), to whom it was handed down by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Selborne). While dealing with some subjects of a very delicate and controversial kind, it had been accepted as a valuable measure in all quarters, though, no doubt, regarded as in the nature of a compromise, and not, indeed, going so far as he himself might desire. It had already received very full and careful consideration in their Lordships' House; and having been adopted at some stage of its history by each Party represented in "another place," it might be expected to be received in a like spirit there, If the House should pass the Bill in good time, no blame would attach to the House or the Government if the Bill did not become law in this Session.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord Chancellor.)


said, he echoed the wish of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack that the Bill might become law, and that no obstructive tactics "elsewhere" would prevent so important a measure from being added to the Statute Book. He regretted, however, that the Government had not taken steps to put an end to the scandals which were alleged to exist by getting rid of the licensed houses. As long as what Lord Shaftesbury called "the evil system of profit" continued to exist, as long as the incarceration of a fellow-creature in a mad-house should be the source of large profit to anyone, so long might they expect a continuance of the scandals to which he alluded. He noticed, therefore, with regret that existing licensed houses were not to be interfered with. The only way to prevent scandals, as private asylums were to be continued, would be a thorough system of visitation; but the present system could not be thus described, the Lunacy Commissioners being too few in number to inquire closely into the cases of 80,000 lunatics. He strongly advocated the establishment of houses for the reception of paying patients by the Local Authorities. The authorities, he felt sure, would be the gainers. There was a large number of persons in asylums who were supported at the public expense, and who were able to support themselves; and if provision were made for receiving paying patients at moderate rates, the expenditure of the counties might be considerably reduced. However, he did not intend to offer any opposition to the second reading, and hoped that the Bill would not this year be included in the "massacre of the innocents" at the end of the Session.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Friday next.