HC Deb 14 May 1924 vol 173 cc1391-2W

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that it has been a practice of the manager of St. Andrew's Hospital, Northampton, in contravention of Section 8 of the Lunacy Act, 1890, which requires that a judicial authority visiting a patient under the terms of that Section shall send a report of the interview to the board of control, to request such visiting judicial authority to sign a statement prepared on the reception order held by the manager, in lieu of making a report, the manager thus obstructing the Commissioners in the performance of their statutory duty under this Section; that the reception order is not among the documents permitted by the Act to be seen by such visiting judicial authority; that his signing a statement upon it that he has seen the patient affords no confirmation of it under the Act, and is in no sense the report required by the terms of the Act; that the board of control alone is empowered by the Act to give effect to any report made by a visiting judicial authority under this Section; and that the practice of the manager in obstructing the exercise of such powers is a misdemeanour under Section 321 of the Act; and will he take suitable disciplinary measures in the matter?


It has been the practice at St. Andrew's Hospital to arrange for the visiting judicial authority to sign a statement on the reception order that he has seen the patient, but not in lieu of making the report required under Section 8 of the Lunacy Act, 1890. Such reports are made and are transmitted to the Board of Control by the clerk to the local Justices. The latter part of the question does not, therefore, arise.


asked the Minister of Health if he will state in how many instances in which the manager of St. Andrew's Hospital, Northampton, on the alleged request of a petitioner, has himself presented the petition for a reception order for persons called voluntary boarders already in that institution; have the allegations in the petition been filled in at the hospital; in how many instances has the alleged request of the petitioner been in fact a document prepared at the hospital, and sent to the peitioner with the manager's request that he signs it; will he take the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown as to whether the Lunacy Act, 1890, which throughout refers to the petitioner as the person who presents, not signs, the petition, anywhere authorises the manager of an asylum to present it in the petitioner's stead; and, if such authority is held to exist, will he immediately introduce legislation making it unlawful for managers whose institutions profit financially by converting voluntary boarders into certified lunatics, to take any part whatever in the preparation or presentation of the documents required for that purpose?


The necessary inquiries are being made, and I will furnish the hon. Member with the result.