HC Deb 16 November 1914 vol 68 cc250-2W

asked the Home Secretary how many local authorities have made provision under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, for dealing with defectives in their areas, and how many have made no such provision?


On the coming of the Act into operation local authorities were invited by circular to submit their proposals for giving effect to the Act to the Board of Control. To assist them in doing so a carefully prepared form was distributed to them with a request that their schemes might be set out in detail thereon and forwarded to the Board of Control by the end of April. The response made by local authorities was very slow, and many of them delayed for weeks, and some for months, the essential preliminary step of appointing a committee to administer the Act as required by law. Up to the present some twenty-three counties and county boroughs have submitted definite schemes which have nearly all received the approval of the Board, and in some seventy other cases correspondence and interviews have taken place which indicate that the preparation of schemes will be proceeded with at an early date. The Board continues to use all its influence towards expediting the action of local authorities and contemplates the issue of another circular immediately with this object. No local authority has as yet provided a certified institution either alone or in conjunction with other local authorities. Four local authorities have under Section 37 of the Act applied for and obtained the approval of the Board to an equal number of Poor Law institutions suitable for the reception of defectives: provision is thus made for 145 cases. Several other applications for such approval are now under consideration.

Institutions and homes provided by religious and philanthropic associations, and by individuals, have come forward in considerable numbers, and the Board has certified or approved of thirty-one of them, making provision for 2,533 cases. In addition to these there are the nine hospitals and institutions formerly registered under the Idiots Act which have become certified institutions or houses under the Mental Deficiency Act, and continue to provide accommodation for many hundreds of defectives.

Nine local authorities have entered into contracts with one or other of these institutions for the reception of defectives from their area; five of these contracts cover a number exceeding eighty, and in the remaining four the numbers to be received are not specified.

The number of cases which have been notified to the Board as having been dealt with by local authorities under the Mental Deficiency Act by being placed under guardianship or sent to institutions is forty-four. In addition to these local authorities have assumed financial responsibility for sixteen cases dealt with by orders of the Secretary of State or Criminal Courts.

Many local authorities have appointed officers to execute the Act, and in their areas the work of enumeration and supervision may be said to have made some progress.