HC Deb 26 July 1923 vol 167 cc743-5W

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that the result of inquiry has shown that in certain private mental institutions patients have been illegally confined owing to their having been seen by no magistrate, and having been served with no notice of their right of appeal to a judicial authority (though admitted by the medical superintendent to be competent to exercise this right), he will state in how many instances, and in which institutions, occurrences of this kind have taken place; and, to avoid the perpetuation of injustice of this nature, will he see that those illegally detained are forthwith released, and that steps are immediately taken to declare invalid the certification of all such as have in this respect been illegally detained since the passing of the Lunacy Act, 1890, in accordance with the precedent noted in the 66th Report of the Lunacy Commissioners themselves, where the certification of 69 paupers who had not been seen by a magistrate was declared by them to have been illegal and, therefore, invalid?


The hon. Member has been supplied with the number of instances and the particular circumstances in which certain private patients admitted during 1922 to private mental institutions in England and Wales were not seen by a magistrate and the provisions of Section 8 of the Lunacy Act, 1890, not fully adhered to. The private institutions where the omissions occurred were three provincial licensed houses. I am advised that failure to comply fully with the requirements of the Section in question, which relates only to private patients, does not invalidate the reception orders. The precedent noted in the 66th Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy refers to pauper patients, who are on an entirely different legal footing from private patients, and to whom Section 8 does not apply. My right hon. Friend has already informed the hon. Member that the authorities concerned have been warned and have given assurances that the law will be strictly observed.


asked the Minister of Health whether he has inquired into the asylum regulations in regard to requiring four weeks' notice before a petitioner can discharge a private patient, which apparently result in a contravention, of Section 72 of the Lunacy Act and give an unfair advantage to the rich over the poor; and will he see that this matter is placed on a more equitable footing?


I have made the necessary inquiries, and now have the matter under consideration. I shall be in a position in a few days to communicate the result to the hon. Member, as promised in my previous reply.