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Mental Deficiency Act

Volume 65: debated on Thursday 30 July 1914

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asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the communications which have passed between the guardians of the poor of St. Pancras and the Local Government Board, in which the Board have put forward the contention that defectives within the meaning of the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, who have received any care from the guardians before the coming into operation of the Act do not fall within its scope; whether the Board adheres to this contention; and whether, seeing that the usefulness of the Act will be greatly diminished if this be its correct interpretation, he is prepared to consider the introduction of amending legislation?

The hon. Member's question does not correctly state the view held by the Local Government Board. The correspondence to which the hon. Member no doubt refers related to the proposed transfer of a defective person from the care of the guardians to that of the local authority under the Mental Deficiency Act, in pursuance of the Regulations made under proviso (ii.) of Section 30 of the Act. These Regulations apply only in the case of defectives subject to be dealt with under Section 2 (1) (b), and, while the Local Government Board have no authority to determine the question finally, it would appear that a person who has for some time been, and is still, an inmate of one of the guardians' institutions cannot be held to be a person subject to be dealt with under that provision on the ground that he is a person who is found neglected, abandoned. or without visible means of support. The question of amending legislation is one for the Home Secretary.