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Asylum Patients

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 30 May 1922

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asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that the knowledge that pension and allowances will be stopped in the event of an ex-service patient coming out of an asylum results in great hardship to the patient, who is often kept in confinement in order that his relatives may draw the money when he would otherwise have been liberated; and whether he will consider making to a patient so discharged a lump sum grant, together with dependants' allowances, for a period sufficient for him to obtain employment?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As I have pointed out in reply to the preceding question, powers of discharge are vested in visitors to asylums. As regards the second part of the question, I may remind my hon. and gallant Friend that a patient may be allowed out "on trial," and during that period the payments by the Ministry in respect of the man and his family continue, thus giving him an opportunity to re-adjust himself to the conditions of ordinary life. If, however, a patient is found to be suitable for discharge, without a period of trial, the position is met by pension appropriate to the degree of disablement due to service.

asked the Minister of Pensions if he will consider altering the existing practice of classifying ex-service patients in asylums as private patients, having regard to the fact that this arrangement hands over the patient to the single individual, who is his next-of-kin and who has the power of keeping him in the asylum indefinitely, even after he has been certified as being harmless and when other relatives are prepared to support him?

The arrangement under which service patients in asylums are placed on the legal footing of private patients was made solely in the interests of the men and has received general approval. This classification entitles the patient to certain privileges, whilst not in any way limiting the powers of discharge vested under the Lunacy Acts in any three of the visitors of the asylum.