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Mental Deficiency Acts (Expenditure)

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the Circular issued last August by the Board of Control to local authorities under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, calling upon them to limit their expenditure under the Act next year to the total amount sanctioned for this year; whether he is aware that, even if no cases except those classed as urgent by the Board of Control are dealt with, the result of the limitation thus imposed will be to leave some 2,000 urgent cases uncared for, to their own unhappiness and suffering, to the great harm of many others, and at a cost to the community in rates and taxes for police, criminal justice, and Poor Law many times as great as the cost of looking after them under the Act; and will he consider this question?

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the Treasury contribution to mental defectives is being withheld from many urgent and dangerous cases, with the result that they are left unrestrained and are a danger to the community; and whither admissions into institutions are limited to a prescribed number?

I have seen the Circular referred to. Local authorities are at present only able to deal with urgent cases, as defined by the Board of Control, provided that the expenditure involved falls within the limits of their approved estimates for 1921–22. The general question of the limitation of expenditure under the Mental Deficiency Acts necessitated by the decision of the Government that the public expenditure must be drastically reduced is receiving careful consideration, and the points mentioned in the questions will be borne in mind.