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Mental Defectives

Volume 237: debated on Thursday 3 April 1930

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asked the Minister of Health whether he has any information respecting the marriage of mental defectives and their offspring; and whether he contemplates taking steps to prohibit such marriages?

References have been made to this matter from time to time in the Reports of the Board of Control. Legislation would be necessary in order to prohibit the marriage of mental defectives; and I cannot at present undertake to introduce a Measure for this purpose.

asked the Minister of Health how many colonies for mental defectives exist in England and Wales; the total number of patients and attendants, respectively; and the total cost; and whether he contemplates encouraging the further establishment of these colonies?

There are 35 institutions certified under the Mental Deficiency Acts, which may be regarded as colonies, but they are in widely divergent stages of development. The total number of patients is at present 16,592, but I am not in a position to state the number of attendants or the total cost. The cost of colonies is under consideration by a Committee recently appointed, and their advice must have a bearing on the question of further provision of accommodation of this type.

asked the Minister of Health in how many instances during the past year have the Board of Control, in fulfilling their duty of scrutinising documents of certification, discovered that no reason has been stated (as required by Section 32 of the Lunacy Act, 1890) as to why the usual medical attendant of the patient has not been consulted; is he aware that the omission to give this reason constitutes a contravention of an important safeguard; and will he see that in future no such omission will be allowed to pass unnoticed?

Statistics are not available in regard to this point. But the omission to which my hon. Friend refers is a contravention of Section 31 of the Lunacy Act, and the Board of Control return for insertion of the necessary particulars all reception documents which do not comply with the requirements of that section.