§ (1) A person who is a defective shall be subject to be dealt with under this Act as herein provided—
- (a) at the instance of his parent or guardian, if he is an idiot or imbecile or is under the age of twenty-one; or
- (b) at the instance of a school board or the parish council, as the case may be, if he is a person under the age of sixteen for whom it is the duty of the school board or the parish council to make suitable provision; or
- (c) if in addition to being a defective he is a person—
- (i) who is found neglected, abandoned, or without visible means of support, or cruelly treated; or
- (ii) who is found guilty of any offence at common law, or under any public and general Act of Parliament, or who is ordered or liable to be ordered to be sent to a certified industrial school; or
- (iii) who is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment (except imprisonment under civil process), or penal servitude, or is undergoing detention in a place of detention by order of a court, or in a reformatory or industrial school, or in an inebriate reformatory or who is detained in an asylum or other lawful place of detention for lunatics or a criminal lunatic asylum or criminal lunatic department of a prison; or
- (iv) who is an habitual drunkard within the meaning of the Inebriates Acts, 1879 to 1900; or
- (v) in whose case such notice has been given by the school board as is hereinafter in this Section mentioned; or
- (vi) who being a woman and unmarried is in receipt of poor relief at any time during her pregnancy, or at the time of giving birth to a child; or
- (vii) who during any consecutive period of six months in the year immediately before the commencement of proceedings under this Act has been in receipt of poor relief in a poor-house on three or more than three several occasions:
§ Provided that in the case of persons under the age of sixteen, referred to in paragraph (c) of this Sub-section, the local authority concerned shall be the school board, unless such persons are, or have been, notified to the parish council under the immediately preceding Section; and in the case of persons of sixteen years or over referred to in paragraph (c) of this Sub-section, the local authority concerned shall be the parish council.
§ (2) Notice shall, subject to regulations made by the Scotch Education Department, be given by the school board to the parish council, and to the Board in the case of all defective children for whom the school board have made provision, and whose discharge from a special school or class. or from an institution, or from guardianship is impending by reason of their attaining the age of sixteen, in whose case the school board are of opinion that it would be to their benefit that they should be sent to or remain in an institution or be placed or remain under guardianship.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I beg to move in Sub-section (1), paragraph (a), after the word "or" ["or is under"] to insert the words "at the instance of his parents if he."
I have handed in my Amendment in manuscript. I have no intention of delaying the House, but I understand it is the intention of the Government that this Bill in its definitions should be the same as the English Mental Deficiency Bill. I hope the Government will accept it.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
Sub-section (a) reads, "at the instance of his parent or guardian, if he is an idiot or an imbecile or is under the age of twenty-one." This Amendment restricts it to the parent. That was accepted in the English Bill. I thought the right hon. Gentleman would have looked at the English Bill after it had passed the Third Reading. If he has not I have got it here
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
The hon. Member is quite right in thinking that it was the intention that the Definition Clauses should be precisely the same, but 1678 that does not explain the other Clauses. There is a good deal of difference in the two Bills, and I think that must apply to this Clause. I do not see any advantage in those words. It seems to me it is desirable that both the parent and the guardian should be included.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has seen the point of my Amendment and perhaps I had better explain it. Under the Idiots Act which is the law at present, a parent or a guardian can lock up an idiot or imbecile, but they cannot do that with a defective person. Under this Bill the parent or guardian can deal with a defective person under the age of twenty-one. The Home Secretary, in the English Bill, accepted an Amendment that the power to lock up a person under the age of twenty-one should only be given to the parents and not to any person who calls himself guardian, and therefore that was inserted. I think it is desirable that also should be inserted in this Bill. I think this Clause is a definition Clause more or less, as it has to be read in conjunction with Clause 1 of the Bill. I hope he will now see his way to accept it.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment. It was accepted on the Report stage of the English Bill by the Home Secretary and it is a very important point whether he will give power to the parent or guardian to lock up children or young people who are under their charge. It is an entirely new power. It is a dangerous power to give to both parents and guardians, but it is much more dangerous to give it to a person like a guardian, who might have pecuniary reasons for getting rid of a ward, and in the hands of an undesirable guardian it will be a very powerful weapon. The House knows perfectly well their may be cases in which a child or ward acts in an undesirable way to the guardian. They may fall in love with the wrong person or something of that kind, and from eighteen to twenty-one they are in danger of being put away by parents or guardians.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
I will consider whether I cannot put it in in another place. I cannot undertake to deal with an Amendment at this time in manuscript.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.