HC Deb 20 March 1923 vol 161 cc2370-1W

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that ex-service men who cannot be proved to be dangerous and unfit to be at large are being detained in large numbers in asylums by the threat of the loss of the whole or a part of their dependants' allowance; by what authority this action is taken, entailing, as it does, the continuance of their incarceration even when dischargeable under the provisions of the Lunacy Act; is he aware that the practice has been defended on the ground that these men, who have been injured in their country's cause, must be forced by this threat to submit to treatment, but that in the case under consideration the depression consequent upon unnecessary detention in such an atmosphere is the reverse of curative; and will he, in view of the widespread disapproval of the practice, take immediate steps for the return to the civilian status of all who are hot dangerous, making them a grant to assist them in a fresh start in life as self-supporting citizens?

Captain CRAIG

The suggestion made by the hon. Member in the first part of the question is quite opposed to the facts. By arrangement with the Board of Control a systematic inspection of all "Service patients" has been carried out for some time past by medical inspectors of my Department with a view to ensuring that each case is receiving appropriate care and treatment. I may add that considerable progress has already been made with arrangements which my right hon. Friend recently initiated far treating the more hopeful type of certified case in separate institutions specially equipped for Service patients. Where, however, a relative in exercise of his powers under the Lunacy Laws insists on the removal of a patient against the advice of the medical superintendent, it is the practice to point out to the responsible relatives that should application be made for re-admission of the patient to the asylum (which experience shows frequently happens), the question of reissuing family treatment allowances must be considered afresh. This is a reasonable procedure which is exercised with the greatest discretion, and solely in the interests of the patients' treatment and prospects of recovery, and in no way conflicts with the provisions of the Lunacy Act.