§ "The following classes of persons who are mentally defective shall be deemed to be defectives within the meaning of this Act:—
- (a) Idiots; that is to say, persons so deeply defective in mind from birth or from an early age as to be unable to guard themselves against common physical dangers;
- (b) Imbeciles; that is to say, persons in whose case there exists from birth or from an early age mental defectiveness not amounting to idiocy, yet so pronounced that they are incapable of managing themselves or their affairs, or, in the case of children, of being taught to do so;
- (c) Feeble-minded persons; that is to say, persons in whose case there exists from birth or from an early age mental defectiveness not amounting to imbecility, yet so pronounced that they require care, supervision, and control for their own protection or for the protection of others, or, in the case of children, are incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools;
- (d) Moral imbeciles; that is to say, persons who from an early age display some permanent mental defect coupled with strong vicious or criminal propensities on which punishment has little or no deterrent effect."
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to move to leave out paragraph (c). We are not asking to leave out paragraphs (a) and (b) because they deal with imbeciles who are pretty easily distinguishable. There is not much difficulty in discovering whether a person is an idiot or an imbecile. It is only when we come to the definition of what constitutes feebleminded persons that we come to the real difficulty so far as definition is concerned. We want the House to understand what feeble-minded persons are; that is to say, persons in whose case there exists from birth or from an early age, defective-ness not amounting to imbecility. If it does not amount to imbecility, you have to refer to the previous definition of what constitutes an imbecile. These are persons in whose case there exists from birth or early age mental defectiveness not amounting to idiocy, which renders them incapable of managing themselves or their affairs; but feeble-minded persons are people who are not so defective that they are incapable of managing themselves or their own affairs, or in other words, they are persons who are capable of managing themselves and their own affairs. Does this House really mean to say that they want to have the power given to the Home Secretary or the Courts of Justice to lock up for life people who are capable of managing themselves or their own affairs? You are really, under this definition, giving power to a Police Court magistrate or stipendiary, or any untrained justice of the peace, approved by the Home Secretary, to pass a sentence on some miserable offender who has committed some trifling crime against some local by-laws, and to lock him up for life simply on the ground that although he is able to manage himself and his own affairs, yet his defectiveness is so pronounced that he requires care, supervision, and control for his own protection or for the protection of others. It is the wording of that sentence I want to call attention to in particular. Whereas the care, control, and supervision for their own protection is a reasonable sort of definition, when once you put in that they 84 require care, supervision, or control in the interests of other persons, you immediately introduce the thin edge of that wedge which the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Dr. Chapple) is always so anxious to drive home, the thin edge of the wedge of the Eugenic theory. What is, or what is not, for the protection of others? According to the hon. Member for Stirlingshire, it is for the protection of other people, that people who are bad breeders should not be allowed to breed, that they should have operations performed on them so that they should not be able to breed.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I never in any of my arguments used that argument at all in favour of this Bill. I have justified the Bill in the interests of those whom it is designed to protect, and those alone.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
It is difficult to know exactly what the hon. Member's arguments are. I have read all his speeches, and he undoubtedly represents in this House that school of thought whose object it is to protect the interests of the future of the race by sterilising and segregating the mentally defective, and it is in the interests of that sort of person that you have got this particular wording of Sub-clause (c), "for the protection of others." That means for the protection of others against the breeding of persons undesirable in the interests of the race. I do urge upon this House to cut out this definition of feeble-minded persons altogether. That will leave in the Bill idiots and imbeciles, the two classes of persons who are already able to be put in institutions; but it will leave out this definition, whose very vagueness, as has been shown in the previous debate, is such that the Home Secretary would not tolerate it as a protection for the defective prisoner, if he had to prove himself to be a feeble-minded person. It is so vague that it cannot be used as a plea against justice, and in that case it should not be left in its present vague position. It is possible for any police magistrate, and for any justice of the peace, approved by the Home Secretary, who may happen to share, and many of them do share, the views of the hon. Member for Stirlingshire, and of the Eugenic Council—that these should be able to consign people who are capable of managing themselves and their own affairs to prison for life under this Bill. It would be impossible to get the House voluntarily to cut out the whole 85 definition of feeble-minded persons, but I trust that we shall have very radical Amendments to this Sub-section, and that we shall have a definition ultimately evolved which does, give some safeguard to the ordinary citizens of this country. We all know very well when we were at school the number of backward children there were in the school who afterwards proved themselves to be admirable citizens, and who very often preferred games and the open air and looking at birds and trees to doing their lessons. Are we going to say that all such children should be segregated for life because they are a danger to society?
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Then I will finish the definition for the hon. Member for Stirlingshire. The last part of the definition is this: "or in the case of children are incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools." Those who are incapable of receiving instruction in the ordinary elementary schools are children who, at the present time, are sent to special schools. You have only to ask the teachers, and you will find that a large number of these children who are regarded by educational authorities and the teachers as being incapable of receiving benefit from their instruction in the ordinary schools are merely children who are backward, who are dull at lessons, and who prefer life in the open streets to sitting at a desk and saying the "ABC" after a teacher. All these children are regarded, at the present time, as being incapable of receiving instruction in the ordinary schools. Are you content that all those children should be severed from their families and sent to these special schools during their school age, and thereafter sent to the feeble-minded institutions? Let hon. Members think what these feeble-minded institutions are. They are full of people who are horrible to see, mentally defective persons, idiots, and imbeciles, people it would be the severest possible penalty to have to live in company with, and to these institutions you are condemning children in this country who are normal in all respects except in so far as their work is concerned, children who are merely a little bit lazy and backward, and they are to be sent to these hells upon earth, to these institutions from which they will never emerge! I ask the House to see if they cannot amend this definition of what con- 86 stitutes feeble-minded persons, and in particular the definition of feeble-minded children, before they pass this Bill into an Act of Parliament; otherwise they will be not benefiting feeble-minded persons, but committing a crime which the people of this country will hold them answerable for. Do you think the parents of these children will take it kindly from you if you pass an Act to deprive them of their children and send them to these places? When you argue, with the hon. Member for Stirlingshire, that it is in the interests, of the race that the inefficient workers should be segregated and stamped out from the race, I think they will have a plain, straightforward answer to make to hon. Members who vote for a crime like this, and I trust that they will see that those people who support this Bill are not sent back here to support similar Bills.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
Though I am seconding the Amendment, it is not because I want the whole of the Sub-section deleted. I am not opposed to this Sub-section at all down to a certain point, and that is feebleminded persons, in whose case there exists from birth or an early age mental defect not amounting to imbecility, yet so pronounced that they require care, supervision, and control for their own protection or for the protection of others. I agree down to that point, but I am bound to say that there is a very considerable amount of force in the statement of the hon. Member for Newcastle in regard to-the other words, because it looks as if it were only necessary for a child to be backward and incapable of taking the average benefit from instruction given in school for it to be segregated with feeble-minded persons and dealt with on that basis. This is really legislation for the working-class children, and let us make no error about that. The hon. Member for Stirlingshire shakes his head, but there is no doubt about it. A person who is fairly well off has a governess at home and instructs his children at home, and up to a certain point of their age they do not come under the cognisance of regulations of this description. They might be absolutely incapable of taking the instruction given them, but no one outside the family circle would be any the wiser where they happened to be able to provide a governess, so that there is not the slightest doubt that these words apply merely to the children of the poor that go to elementary schools, and then the teacher is obliged to report that it does not matter what they do, this child does 87 not seem to be able to get on, is at the bottom of the form though it has been there three or four years, and so on. The hon. Member for Stirlingshire suggests that they shall be dealt with as feebleminded persons. This is how it appears to me, who am a supporter of the Bill and not opposed to the Bill at all, but really this is too much of a good thing, and unless there is some explanation or some saving Clause somewhere else, I would almost see the Bill wrecked before I would allow this to be applied to the ordinary child of working people who happened to be backward. For that reason, I must have some explanation, or I shall be obliged to vote as suggested by the hon. Member for Newcastle.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Order, order. I wish the hon. Gentleman would not be so impatient. I think we should get on better.
§ Mr. McKENNA
My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme is really, notwithstanding two years' debates, still under a complete misapprehension as to the nature of this Bill. He said that a magistrate who was passing sentence on some person for some miserable offence, would have power to lock up that offender for life; but there is no such provision in the Bill. There is no such provision, or such power, or anything like it in the Bill. Then he said the reason he would be able to do so was because, under the definitions, a feeble-minded person, although he was able to manage his own affairs, was a person who required supervision for the protection of others. I quite admit that the hon. Membear, reading these words superficially without considering them, might naturally fall into the error which he has made, but I beg him to remember that he has had these words before him now for over a year. He has taken a great interest in the Bill and written about it to the Press, and ho has had it for over a year before him. He has had it again and again explained to him that these words do not bear the construction which he has put upon them. When it is said in paragraph (b) that "imbeciles are persons who are incapable of managing themselves or their affairs," and in paragraph (c) that "feeble-minded persons are persons who, not being imbeciles, yet require care, supervision, and control for their own protection or for the 88 protection of others," it does not mean that because they are not imbeciles they are therefore capable of managing their own affairs.
§ Mr. McKENNA
There is all the difference in the world. The hon. Member must not even construe it in that way. Although not imbeciles, they may still be incapable of managing their own affairs. The words in the first definition—Imbeciles; that is to say persons in whose case there exists from birth or from an early age mental defectiveness not amounting to idiocy, yet so pronounced that they are incapable of managing themselves or their affairs"—mean that they are completely incapable of managing themselves or their affairs, and the words have been so construed, and, when in the next paragraph we say, "not being imbeciles," we mean persons who are not completely incapable of managing themselves or their affairs, and yet persons who are so mentally defective that they cannot look after themselves. They are still persons who in the ordinary sense are not capable of managing themselves or their affairs, but they are not completely incapable.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No; but the word "completely" is the interpretation put upon these words in another Act of Parliament. My hon. Friend proposes to leave out paragraph (c), leaving it to apply only to idiots or imbeciles. Knowing the facts as he does, he ought to have reminded the House that this Bill repeals the Idiots Act, 1886, and that, therefore, to leave out paragraph (c) would be to destroy the whole Bill. My hon. Friend knows that as well as I do, and he is really not entitled at this late stage to bring up again as a fresh argument this kind of argument, which he produced last year, without informing the House at the same time that his Amendment destroys the Bill. Then my hon. Friend went on to deal with the question of children, and there I think his statements were even more amazing. He said that this Bill gave power to lock up children who were a little backward or lazy. He said, "You lock them up for life in very hells upon earth." All that, he said, was done by paragraph (c). His remarks 89 went so far as to deceive my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward). What are the real facts about paragraph (c) in relation to children? In the first place, in order to remove any misconception on the point, my hon. Friend might have said, as I think he is also well aware, that I have placed upon the Paper an Amendment to leave out the word "are" ["or in the case of children are"], and to insert the words "that they, by reason of such defectiveness, are permanently." That would exclude any motion of mere temporary defectiveness.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Because feeble-mindedness is a permanent defect, and we have inserted it throughout. A person to be treated as feeble-minded must be somebody who from birth or from an early age has been mentally defective. Therefore, in the definition of children who might come under the operation of the Bill, we are quite willing to insert words providing that the mental defectiveness shall be permanent and not merely casual. This is only a definition Clause, and it says:—The following classes of persons who are mentally defective shall be deemed to be defectives within the meaning of this Act.It then deals with certain classes of children who shall be deemed to be defectives, but you have to turn to the later Clauses to see how children who come within the definition of this Act can toe dealt with. The only children who can be dealt with under this Act will be found to be those under Clause 2, Sub-Section (1), paragraph (b) (i.) who are found to be neglected, abandoned, or without visible means of support or cruelly treated; under paragraphs (ii.) and (iii.) who have been guilty of a criminal offence or are undergoing imprisonment, or under paragraph (v.) in whose case notice has been given by the local education authority as is hereinafter mentioned. Now I turn to the class of children in respect of whom this notice may be; given, and I find it is only these classes of children:
§ Mr. McKENNA
Clause 2, Sub-Section (2) paragraph (a), says,Children over the age of seven who have been ascertained to be incapable by reason of mental defect of receiving 90 benefits or further benefit in special schools or classes, or who cannot be instructed in a special school or class without detriment to the interests of the other children or for whom the Board, of Education, certify that no suitable special school or class is available.
§ Mr. McKENNA
(b) who on or before attaining the age of sixteen are about to be withdrawn or discharged from a special school or class.The whole point of my argument is that the only class of child who can be dealt with is the child who either is in a special school or class and is incapable by reason of mental defect of receiving benefit or further benefit from the instruction, or who has been discharged from a special school or class because he is so defective that he cannot receive further benefit from the special school or class. It follows from this that the child who is merely lazy or backward, the ordinary child in the ordinary elementary school who does not come up to the level of the other children, is absolutely excluded from the operation of the Bill. Then I have to consider how they can be dealt with under the Bill, and not one of those children, children who must be proved to be mentally defective or who must be in a special school or be discharged from a special school, can be dealt with except under an order made by a judicial authority on a petition and with medical evidence, and yet my hon. Friend has the courage to get up and say that upon the mere judgment of this, that, or the other magistrate, children who are merely lazy or backward may be sent to "hells" for life. I think that I have given sufficient explanation to show that my hon. Friend's alarms are entirely unfounded, and I will only conclude by saying that to exclude this paragraph would be to render the Bill nugatory and throw us back on the existing law.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I quite agree that this paragraph is necessary. It is true that if we are to pass the Bill at all, it would be folly to leave out such an important provision. It is most true that you cannot follow the importance of this Sub-section without having regard to the later Clauses of the Bill. It is necessary to bear in mind when discussing these provisions that we have to deal with a body of opinion which, it seems to me, is not a very reasonable body of 91 opinion when you come to the administration of these laws. You have philanthropists and you have scientific people, and both those two classes of persons are apt to get fancies—you really can hardly all them by a more respectable name—and to press those fancies with a total disregard to the feelings of individuals, and with the most ruthless indifference to the sufferings they cause, provided that they are clear in their own minds that they are doing what is in the interests of this or that person. Therefore, you must watch with most jealous care the language of Statutes of this kind. Philanthropists, in the language of symbolical physiology, are very abnormal persons. They have swelled heads and no bowels, and they proceed, therefore, with a total disregard for the liberty of the subject. The Home Secretary probably knows that neglect has received a very artificial interpretation at the hands of some magistrates. It has been held that merely to refuse to have a child operated upon when medical advice thinks that it ought to be operated upon is wilful neglect. I do not believe that the High Courts of Justice would take that view, but it has been taken by some magistrates.
Supposing the doctor said, "Here is a child which ought to go through a certain course for epileptic children," it is possible that magistrates might take the view, if the parents refused, that they were neglecting their child. It would then come within a class included in Clause 2, Sub-section (1), and would fall under the operation of this Bill. Those are the sort of dangers you have to guard against, and I think that the language of this paragraph will have to be most carefully considered. There is one expression "proper benefit," which misled the hon. Member, not altogether unnaturally, into his exaggerated account of the Bill. The words "proper benefit" would seem to suggest the advantage a schoolmaster might think a child ought to get from his teaching. I rather agree with the Home Secretary. If you read the whole Clause, it has to be mental defectiveness not amounting to imbecility, yet so pronounced that they require care, supervision, and control. All that has to be read before you come to consider the proper benefit. At any rate, it is permanent defectiveness. If the Home Secretary could find some better adjective which would really suggest that it was more than a backward 92 or stupid child, and if the proper benefit could be qualified in some way, it would remove the sort of case which the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme has in his mind, and I think that the Clause would be made better. But I really think that it is in the later parts of the Bill we must look for safeguards in giving parents proper control over their children and in protecting them against compulsion.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I agree with the Home Secretary that if this paragraph were deleted the whole Bill would be destroyed. I also agree that backward children could not possibly come under this Clause. I take it that only special school children would come under this Clause. The right hon. Gentleman said that the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme had had these definitions before him for two years, and that, therefore, he ought not to raise new points, but the right hon. Gentleman has himself had them before him for two years, and yet to-day he is proposing to make a very important and far-reaching change. It is proposed to insert the word "permanently," but I do not think the House has at all realised what the insertion of that word would really mean.
§ Mr. JAMES HOGGE
If the Home Secretary will look at page 3 of the Bill, lines 3 and 4, he will see that the words are, "or for whom the Board of Education certify that no suitable special school or class is available." Does not that provision seem to give a loophole to the local education authorities, which probably could not afford the erection of special schools, to throw the care of these children oh those other authorities, and therefore those children would not get the benefit of the education which they would receive in the special schools, and they might be all the more quickly thrown into the hands of the other authorities?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I propose to deal with those words when we come to them in a way which I think will be satisfactory.
§ Mr. MARTIN
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment is proceeding on entirely humanitarian grounds, and I support him on those grounds, because it seems to me we have made a very strong case, in spite of what the Home Secretary says. I have spent the last six weeks or two 93 months in considering this measure, and while I must say that the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme holds strong views in regard to this Bill, yet, with regard to this definition, I do not think he is inaccurate at all. It appears to me that, under this Bill, all that has to be done is to get the consent of any justice of the peace—and all justices of the peace are not capable jurists—and, so far as the Bill is concerned, when that consent is given a child can be practically imprisoned for life. It is provided that its case may be reconsidered; that is true, but after all, to all intents and purposes, that child will be imprisoned for life. No doubt some alteration is required, but our principal objection is to this part of the Bill, and it is clear that those children are to be a separate class altogether from those who are mentally defective. Even with the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman it seems to me that this class will be a very large one, and will be incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in the ordinary schools. I submit that in a large number of cases the children who do not receive proper benefit are not incapable of receiving instruction, and that it is due to the incapability of the teacher. The teacher fails to understand some of the children. I have an instance in my own mind of a person who was sent to school, but he received no teaching whatever. He was pronounced to be perfectly incapable of receiving instruction, and he was sent away from the school unable to read or write. He remained incapable of reading or writing until the age of forty years, without any change being observable in his condition since he was sent from the school. After he was forty years of age he went to a tutor, under whom he was educated, and under whom he showed great aptitude indeed. The reason of his incapacity at school was that he had a physical defect, and in reality the teacher was incapable of understanding the child. But all these cases are within the Bill.
No matter how capable a teacher may be, whether man or woman, in regard to everything else, he or she may be incapable of understanding the physical or even the slight mental defects of pupils who enter his or her school. Under this Clause the words are "a child who is incapable of receiving benefit from instruction in the ordinary school"; but we must remember that unless a person comes within the definition of Clause 1, he cannot be proceeded with under the Act itself. Evidence is to be produced before the magistrates 94 whether a person is defective under (a), (b), (c), or (d). That is most important. The Home Secretary says, "After all, it does not matter very much, and the definitions on that part of the Bill come later on." I dispute that. I submit that this is the important part of the Bill. These four definitions, and especially definition (c), are an important part of the Bill. It has been pointed out that it does not even mean, under the present Bill, that those children who cannot be dealt with under Sub-section (c) shall be children who have to go to a special school. The Home Secretary has told us that he proposes to move an Amendment with regard to that. It is very remarkable that we are only to get this Amendment now. This Bill was fought in Committee all last Session, and has been fought this Session, and all our Amendments have been refused. The attitude of the Government has been, "This is our Bill, every word of it." [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That is substantially true. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."]
§ Mr. MARTIN
I say it is very remarkable that an Amendment should now come from the Home Secretary to alter the Clause providing that the Board of Education are to specify the children. I do not know what the alteration is. We are now going to have two Amendments with regard to this Clause which the Government have refused to discuss up to date. Sub-section (c) was not discussed, and with regard to other provisions of the Bill no change could be obtained. I rather welcome the proposal to make Amendments now, for I think it is encouraging to those of us who have persistently endeavoured to get fundamental changes in this Bill, that they should be obtained even at this late hour.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
The hon. Member said that he opposed the Bill on humanitarian grounds, but I understand those grounds to be in favour of the Bill and not opposed to it. The object of these Clauses is not to imprison persons for life, but to protect them. There are 95 thousands of persons from whom the imprisonment will be a real and beneficial protection, and every care will be taken that the persons who are put into these institutions are persons who will be there for their benefit. The wider you make these Clauses and definitions the better it will be; and it is because there is a very large number of persons mentally defective that these Clauses for their protection must be introduced into the Bill.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I have the greatest respect for the hon. Member for St. Pancras, who said that the definitions could not be too wide, and that the wider they are the better. That is a perfectly justifiable point of view compared with the point of view of an absolute autocracy —a body of people who know instinctively what people ought to be in prison and what people ought to be at liberty. We have got to remember that we are dealing with ordinary human beings and not with men like Mr. Sydney Webb or the Member for St. Pancras. It is in order to protect the ordinary individual of this country that you have got to make the definitions clear, and get them as hard and as fast as it is possible, and not to trust merely to the goodness of heart and intentions of people like the hon. Member for St. Pancras. I am sorry that the Home Secretary has left the House, because I am afraid that the warmth with which he replied to my recent Amendment portends a somewhat stormy and electrical time later on in the day. If he is so very angry with my Amendments at six o'clock, I do not know what he will be at twelve o'clock at night. He says that I spoke of feeble minded persons who were quite capable of managing their own affairs. I was not the first to say that. Mr. G. K. Chesterton said it in the first place, and it has been said in every Liberal newspaper in the last year and a half. It is all very well for the Home Secretary to get up now and say "incapable of" will mean in future "completely incapable of." The wording of this Bill is what we have to go by. Under the wording of this Bill people who are not incapable of managing their own affairs are liable to long, life confinement. There is no getting away from that; they may not be "completely incapable." You must take the words in the Bill as they are. If the right hon. Gentleman likes to put in an Amendment and insert the word "completely" before "incapable," well and 96 good. But, as he does not suggest doing that, we must assume that all the wisdom is embodied in the plutocrats of the Home Office and in those who will be called upon to decide whether or not these individuals shall be confined for life. I am sorry the Home Secretary has left the House because, having denounced me with great force, he gave an entirely fancy account to the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University of how children are to be dealt with in this Bill. Where you have special schools or classes the children will continue to be weeded out from the ordinary elementary schools to the special schools or classes by the teachers. That is the present system, and it is the system which is to be continued in the future. When they have been weeded out from the ordinary schools into the special schools, the process of weeding out will continue under Clause 2, Section (2), Sub-section (a). If a child goes into the special school he may be weeded out to an institution between the ages of seven and sixteen. So far there is no difference between myself and the Home Secretary. But the right hon. Gentleman tried to leave it at that; he tried to suggest that that was the only way in which the children would be dealt with. If, however, you read the next Subsection, Sub-section (b), you will see that children who remain in the special school after the weeding out process has been continued, between the ages of seven and sixteen, are then to be dealt with in the following manner. I had better read the exact words of the Sub-section. They are,
"who on or before attaining the age of sixteen are about to be withdrawn or discharged from a special school or class, and in whose case the local education authority are of opinion that it would be to their benefit that they should be sent to an institution or placed under guardianship."
Thus the education authority, again, is the body that will give notice to the local authority under this Act, and children who have not been weeded out prior to the age of sixteen can be dealt with at or near the age of sixteen. The local education authority, without any doctor's certificate, can give notice that certain children require to be looked after. I think we must all recognise that there are some teachers in our schools who would be thankful to see children in ordinary schools looked after as well as those in special schools, and is it unlikely that they will say that 97 the children in special schools will be better off by being looked after? It comes to this: When once a child goes into a special school or class the fate of that child is sealed. Notice will be given either before it reaches the age of sixteen if it is mentally defective, or at that age, by the teacher that it had better be looked after after leaving school. What happens then? Notice is given to the local authority under this Act, and the officer of that authority brings a petition before the justices of the peace which states that the child, a mentally defective child, belonging to a particular class, requires to be looked after. That petition has to be backed by the certificates of two medical practitioners. It would be quite easy to get such certificates in the case of any child who has been in a special school under the very vague definition contained in this Bill. After all, the medical practitioner will not have to say that such-and-such a person is insane or incapable of managing his or her affairs; he will be merely asked to say that such a person would be better if looked after, and that it would be better either for his own protection or for the protection of other persons.
I submit that that is much too big a risk to allow the people of this country to run. At the present time, as this Bill stands, any child who goes to a special school or class runs very grave risk of being incarcerated for life. In a large part of the country where there are no special schools or classes I am afraid you have an even wider area of danger for the children of the working classes. Where there is no special school or class there will only be one weeding-out process. If a child is weeded out from an ordinary school between the ages of seven and fourteen, it will go, not to a special school or class, because there is none under the local authority, but it will go straight away to one of these institutions, and I am inclined to think it will be not protection, but an added danger, for these slow children that there should be no special school or class that will take them in. In the absence of such special school or class, any child who the teacher finds to be backward or incapable of reaping proper benefit from the instruction of the school is sent straight away from the ordinary elementary school to one of these institutions without any second weeding-out process. That is a very grave danger. That is why the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham (Mr. J. A. Pease) has brought in an 98 Education Bill to deal with this particular difficulty. The Bill has not passed its Second Reading, and whether it will ever do so, I cannot say, but I am confident that the dangers in front of parents of feeble-minded children in this country are growing, and that this Bill places the very serious risk on parents that if a child is sent to a special school, and if this Definition Clause is left as it stands, once a child is withdrawn from an ordinary elementary school no parent can be sure of getting it back.
The Home Secretary said that if this Clause were deleted there would be nothing left in the Bill. I do not agree with him. There will be a great deal left; there will be the money provisions left, and they constitute the most important part of the Bill, because they provide institutions to which these people can go voluntarily. We are only discussing now the need for compulsion; we are discussing whether we ought to compel people who come under a certain definition to take advantage of these benefits. If they are real benefits they will be taken advantage of voluntarily by everyone who needs them. All we are discussing is whether we shall compel a certain narrow class of persons who come within the scope of this definition to go to these institutions. This Clause merely deals with one corner of the question. I hope we shall fight against it. If we could have some promise of an Amendment in the definition of feeble-minded, it might assist us, but I do not suppose that the Under-Secretary is allowed to give any promises in regard to an important Clause. But what we do want is a serious Amendment of this definition. May I repeat my points? First, if this definition comes out, it will not destroy the Bill, because it only deals with the compulsory part of the measure. So far as the Bill is concerned, the providing of money and the weeding out of these feeble-minded persons will still be retained in the Bill. I further want to point out what will be the normal course under this Bill if it becomes an Act. The children will be weeded out first from the ordinary to the special school, and then from the special school to the institution, while those who remain in the special school after weeding out pass automatically under the action of the local authority, to the institution. The normal course will be that when a child has gone to a special school—when it has been removed from an ordinary school—it will go to one of these 99 institutions permanently, without any weeding-out process taking place. It will be done on the initiative of the teacher and without any medical certificate. Now we have to protect these children from being weeded out by making the definition as narrow as possible. It is not the case we are dealing with only a few children. Every child who goes to a special school, whether it has reached the age of sixteen or not, will pass automatically into the institution, provided the local education authority gives notice to that effect. That is the class for whom I am pleading. I think they ought to have protection against the danger of incarceration for life. They are children who have been weeded out very often simply because they are slow and do not get proper benefit from the education given in the ordinary school. I do not say it is necessary to cut out the whole Clause. But I do think the House is justified in asserting that the greatest care should betaken in all these cases, so that there may be no possible risk of a child being improperly incarcerated for life under this Bill.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ACLAND ALLEN
I speak with a certain amount of knowledge on this subject as I am associated with the largest educational authority in the country and am chairman of its special schools committee. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) has spoken as though it was entirely at the option of the teacher in the ordinary school whether or not a child was weeded out and sent to a special school. That certainly is not the case in London, where the education authority has more special schools than all the rest of the country put together. In no case in London is a child admitted to a special school unless it has been certified by one of the doctors of the education authority as being a proper child to go into such a school. Then the hon. Member's account of the attitude of the teachers in the special schools is equally incorrect. He spoke as if they were anxious always to weed out the children from the special schools and have them sent to an institution. The exact reverse is the case. I speak with infinite knowledge of the work which the teachers are doing in these schools. I know what is their ambition, an ambition which is frequently fulfilled. It is to so educate the children under their charge that they are able once more to take their place in the ordinary school. That occurs over and over again, and it is 100 certainly the desire of the teachers of the special schools to effect that rather than that the children should pass on to an institution. It will be quite impossible, under any reasonable local education, authority, for such children to be passed on from special schools to institutions without the authority of the school medical officers. In every case the school medical officer is called upon to give his authority before any such transfer is made. I know these schools, and that in many cases the children educated in them are turned out able to take their place and earn their living as reasonable, respectable citizens. I know, also, too well, that there is in these schools a certain proportion—not a very large proportion, but a not inconsiderable proportion—who, unless they get after they leave these schools decent guardianship and decent care in some such institution as that in the North of England and others scattered about the country, which I hope will be increased when this Bill is passed, they will infallibly go the downward course and live a life which can only be a curse to themselves and to others. I should regret it extremely if this Amendment were carried, because I believe it would destroy one of the most important portions of the Bill.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
I desire to draw attention to the fact that it is not necessary under the Bill that the child should have been to a special school before he can be confined to a home. I notice that an Amendment has been made to Clause 2 by the Committee, by which a child may be taken if the Board of Education certify that no special school or class is available. As the definition now stands, it means that children incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools can be removed to a home if the Board of Education certify that no suitable special school or class is available. I opposed this proposal in Committee, because I thought it was going very far indeed to say that because a child is incapable of benefiting from the ordinary education given in the ordinary school he should be liable to be imprisoned for life, because it practically means that. My hon. Friend behind me and the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme seem to think that it was intended that before a child could be so removed he must be removed in the first instance to a special school. I should like to ask the Under-Secretary whether the Govern- 101 ment intend to insist upon the words of Clause 2, which provides that a child may, notwithstanding the fact that he has had no opportunity of being tested in a special school, be removed from the ordinary school to a home, provided it can be proved that he is incapable of benefiting by the instruction in an ordinary school. I can understand there is a good deal to be said for the view that a child who has failed to benefit by the ordinary instruction given in a special school should be treated as a defective, but it is contrary to what the Committee and a large number of Members intended to say if we say that a person should be liable to removal if he is merely incapable of benefiting from the ordinary instruction.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I had put down in my own name an Amendment similar to that now being discussed. On consideration, however, I decided not to move it, mainly because I came to the conclusion that if the Bill was to be a reality at all, some definition of feeble-mindedness would require to appear in it. I was unable to discover a definition which was a real improvement upon that in the Bill. There have been two points of view in regard to this matter—first of all, that expressed by the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson), who desires to make the definition as wide as possible, and, on the other hand, there is the point of view represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil), who, on the whole, prefer a restricted view of the class which comes within the definition. The question is how we are to secure this end. From the point of view of the hon. Member for North St. Pancras, it is well that the Clause should be as wide as possible. He believes that the treatment is going to be an unmitigated benefit to those afflicted by it, and that it is for their protection, training, and cure. It may be so. Were the institutions in which these people are going to be treated voluntary institutions I could well believe all those things would be true, and that they would be an unmixed benefit for them; but, at the same time, we must remember that the powers which are being taken for the cure and protection of these people are also powers which involve their compulsory detention. As they involve compulsory detention, we should look upon them with great care and caution.
No matter how beneficial an institution may be, nobody who is compelled to remain 102 in it is necessarily to believe that it is simply for his benefit. For example, the Ritz Hotel and Devonshire House are both very desirable places, but no Member of this House would care to be detained in either for the rest of his natural life, and if the hon. Member for North St. Pancras got up and said in connection with such a proposal that it would be for the benefit of the individual for whom it was suggested a great many people would, disagree with him and probably vote against him. That feature of the proposals in this Bill should always be borne, in mind. We may all agree that it is beneficial, curative, and protective, but it is, at the same time, a very serious restriction of liberty. I can only speak for myself in this matter, but I think we who desire to restrict the definition should adopt the method of securing additional safeguards and precautions in reference to the people who may be dealt with under the Bill. Certain precautions have been included which were introduced in Committee. The Home Secreary has indicated that additional precautions and safeguards will be adopted during the course of the present stage of the Bill. In view of the changes which have already been made and the other changes which have been promised, there is really no case for opposing the insertion of this paragraph in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, in paragraph (c), to leave out the words "not amounting to imbecility, yet so pronounced," and to insert instead thereof the words "so pronounced that, while capable of managing themselves or their affairs, or in the case of children of being taught to do so, yet."
This is really a drafting Amendment. Each of these definitions goes on the principle of saying that it is not so bad as the previous one—that the imbeciles are not idiots, and that the feeble-minded persons are not imbeciles. I think it would be better, in defining feeble-minded persons, that you should say what they are and not what they are not. The paragraph says that feeble-minded persons are
"persons in whose case there exists from birth or from an early age mental defectiveness not amounting to imbecility."
103 I want to embody in the definition of feeble-minded persons the definition of imbeciles in the previous paragraph, and instead of saying, "Not amounting to imbecility," to say "so pronounced that— then comes the definition which is taken from the imbecility paragraph—while capable of managing themselves or their affairs, or in the case of children being taught to do so—both these things are what imbeciles are not—and then go on with the definition as before. It is very important that we should make each of these paragraphs clear in itself, and that they should not be definitions by reference. Here you have again introduced that vice against which every Member of the House has protested at some time or other, the vice of legislating by reference. Here we have definitions by reference. It would be better to take the words from the previous definition and embody them in this definition, which would then read:
"Feeble-minded persons; that is to say, persons in whose case there exists from birth or from an early age mental defectiveness so pronounced that while capable of managing themselves or their affairs, or in the case of children are being taught to do so, yet that they require care, supervision, and control for their own protection or for the protection of others."
That seems to cross the "t's" and dot the "i's" of the previous definition. It does not strengthen, widen, or stiffen it, but only makes perfectly clear to the House and to the country what we are doing, and does not try to conceal it in this vague reference tonot amounting to imbecility.I hope it will be treated as being a drafting Amendment and incorporated in the Bill. I am all in favour of making these definitions of what constitutes a new crime as clear as possible, and leaving as little as possible to the imagination or idea of the people who will administer the Bill. This Amendment is only one of a series which I have put down to this paragraph. It elucidates the matter. The other Amendments have been suggested by Dr. Bernard Hollander, the great specialist, and I think the Government might accept some of them.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I think the hon. Member, in the course of his speech, has made the very answer I should have given to this Amendment. He wants to embody in this paragraph the definition of imbecility which appears in paragraph (b). That is the substance of the Amendment. Before I deal with this matter, may I remind the hon. Member that in the Committee of 1912, we spent six days upon this very definition.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
There were twenty-seven Divisions upon the definition of defectives. In the Committee of 1913, from which the hon. Member was unfortunately absent—
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Unfortunately absent—I know he has been busy in other haunts of life—there were three days spent and six Divisions taken upon this question. I think I am entitled to say that for nine days in two years we have really gone into this matter very carefully. These definitions are very difficult matters. We all know that any definition is difficult, but a definition of different states of mind is very difficult indeed to get watertight. We know that in the long run it will have to be a matter of inspection and observation by the skilled men who will have to deal with these cases. In regard to the substance of this Amendment, it is really to substitute in (c) the definition given in (b) of imbecility. There can only be one reason for this, and that is that the ordinary reader of the Bill will have forgotten, when he comes to line twenty, what was in line fifteen. There are some who would forget, but it is only six lines back. It is not as if it were twenty Clauses back. When a man comes to Sub-section (c) and sees the word "imbecility," he only has to look six lines back to see the definition. The hon. Member is very anxious not to have prolixity in Acts of Parliament. Would not this be carrying prolixity too far, to redefine the word in line twenty? I hope the hon. Member will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to move to leave out the word "require" ["that they require care"], and to insert instead 105 thereof the words "required throughout their life's history."
This is one of the Amendments which was suggested by Dr. Bernard Hollander and I hope it will receive careful attention at the hands of the Government. It is based upon the idea that mental deficiency begins at an early age and lasts throughout life and that it is not an accidental occurrence which occurs at a certain age, but is part of the growth and history of the development of the child, and that it is most important in making these definitions that we should have it clearly laid down that the deficiency has to be a permanent matter and not one which is purely temporary. The Home, Secretary himself, in framing an Amendment of which he gave notice to-day, has recognised this later on in the Clause. The Amendment is that in the case of children they, by reason of such defectiveness, are permanently incapable of taking advantage of their education in the schools. He recognises, just as I think every doctor who has studied the question realises, that mental deficiency is a permanent state of affairs, and that what you have to judge by is not what the child or the adult is at the present moment, but what he has been like at all previous dates in his history so far as those who know him remember, and that is what Dr. Hollander means when he talks of their life history. He says it is of the utmost importance that a medical practitioner who is giving a certificate should not base his certificate simply on what he sees of the patient at that moment, but should also have information as to the previous life history of the patient, and in order that we may make it necessary that the medical practitioner should give such evidence we want it stated that the definition of feeble-mindedness requires not merely the state at that moment, but the condition of the patient during his or her whole life. I will read what Dr. Hollander says on the matter:—The definition as it stands will be applicable to a great many persons who are leading normal and useful lives. It is true of many men, and still more so of a great many women, that they are mentally defective—of course, not amounting to imbecility yet sufficiently pronounced that some care, supervision and control should be given for their protection or for the protection of others. We are all feeble-minded in some respects or when taken out of our accustomed environment. For the law to interfere with the border-line feeble-minded it should be proved in any given case that a person is always in need of supervision and not merely at a particular time, and in the case of children it is not sufficient to say that they are incapable of receiving proper benefits from the instruction in ordinary schools, 106 which may apply to a great many children who do well in after life, but it should be stilted that they have failed to acquire rudimentary knowledge.I do not know whether the Government want to meet me on any of these Amendments or to steam-roller the whole of them, but this is an occasion when they might possibly take a recommendation, not from the Member for Newcastle, who is such a nuisance to them, but from a leading specialist in questions of insanity whose opinion presumably is of some weight.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to second the Amendment.
So far as I understand the scope of the Bill, there is no intention of including anybody who has not been feeble-minded from birth or from an early age. If you take the Bill strictly as it stands, a person who has been slightly feeble-minded, but not in such a state that you would require to take any steps in respect to him under this Bill, and lives to the age of forty or fifty and then brings himself within the definition of the Bill, requires care, supervision, and control, and that would be introducing a very dangerous state of affairs. The object of the Amendment is that the only people to be dealt with by the Bill are those who have been feeble-minded from their birth or from an early age. If it were not so, that would be opening the door to all the dangers which have been pointed out under other definitions in other Bills, cases of people who were inclined to be feeble-minded and who would be dealt with for very objectionable reasons when they arrived at that time of life—disputes as regards property, disputes between husband and wife, and other reasons which would mar the advantages and objects of the Bill. As it stands now, it is sufficient for a person to be feeble-minded from birth or from an early age, to be perfectly quiescent until the age of forty and then get so pronounced that he requires care, supervision, and control for his protection. That is a possible construction of the Bill as it stands. I gather that is not the intention of the Government, and that if a person has not brought himself within the purview of the Bill at the age of forty, they do not intend him to come under it then. If that is so, there can be no harm in inserting these words They will come in perfectly simply. It is, after all, merely a drafting Amendment which will carry out the intention of the Government better than the present Bill.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree with me that these words are not at all necessary. "That there exists from birth or from an early age mental defectiveness not amounting to so and so." Someone must be satisfied with that fact before the patient can come in this Clause: Of course, these definitions are very difficult. We had a definition from the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood) of himself, that he was a nuisance. No one will agree with that definition. So there is really difficulty about it. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that no one is a feeble-minded person unless from birth or from an early age there exists mental defectiveness. That is the same thing in other words as "required throughout their life history. "Suppose there was a case where no one knew the previous history. Is it to be said that because we could not trace the life history of the patient from year to year, he is to be excluded from the provisions of the Bill, however much he requires it? I really do not think there is very much in the substance. The hon. Member asked whether we are going to steam-roller his Amendments. There are some Amendments which only deserve the steam roller, and I do not think this is one of the most useful Amendments he has moved.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I am sorry the Government cannot accept the Amendment. Their arguments against it are arguments which cut their own throats. First of all, the Under-Secretary says it is quite unnecessary to state that they have required care throughout their life history, because mental defectiveness must have occurred at an early age. No doctor could sign the certificate unless he knew this defectiveness had occurred in early age or was a permanent affair. Then he says, "How can we possibly know their life history when we may not know what was their previous history at all?" He may just have come across the case casually after he has grown up. He is unable to find the life history and is also unable to state when the mental defectiveness began. So that if he was unable to give a certificate on account of the fact that he did not know whether the infant was feebleminded, exactly the same argument applies to the inability to supply the life history. There is no argument to be drawn from that whatever, but there is a very substantial need for this Amendment. The Under-Secretary has omitted to notice 108 that the definition of the feeble-minded person is that he or she shall need care, control, and supervision. What would be the definition of a feeble-minded person who did not require care, control, or supervision? Obviously he contemplates bringing under this Act a person who has been mentally deficient from birth, but who in early years may not have needed care, supervision, or control. It is extremely important that the definition of what is a mentally defective person should be the same when he is forty years of age as when he is an infant. You want the same definition of feeble-mindedness throughout, and whether a person be that from middle age or from a baby, in either case the feeblemindedness shall depend upon the need for care, supervision, or control. Therefore this Amendment, which makes it quite clear that the definition of mental deficiency must in all cases and at all ages be the same, should, stand in the Bill.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to move to leave out the words "for their protection or."
I want to leave out these, which are purely drafting words, because it seems to me that they give a false idea of what the Bill is intended to be. It is primarily a Bill for the protection of others. These are the compulsory Clauses in the Bill. Anyone who is a feeble-minded person under this definition ought to have not only a clear statement as to why he is regarded as mentally deficient, but also he should be safe from having in the definition the somewhat hypocritical statement that he needs care for his own protection. That makes it quite clear what is the intention of the Bill—that is, that it is passed for the protection of society and not for the protection of the individual. The individual is able, under this Bill, to get assistance if he wants it. A feeble-minded person could get a home which he would be free to enter or to leave without these penal Clauses in the Bill at all, but it is only hypocritical to say to a person, "We are not content that we should take advantage of this Bill that you should get a real home, but we will take care that the real home shall be a real prison and that you shall not be allowed to leave it if you once go into it." When you are saying that, I think it is just as well to make clear in the definition that you are guilty of hypocrisy 109 by saying that it is for their protection alone, that this Bill is being passed. If the words "for their own protection" were left out, the Clause would still give sufficient protection for the cases you have to deal with. Why shove in the words "for their own protection"? Some persons have the old-fashioned idea that all women require protection. If you had gone to Whitehall on Sunday afternoon, you might have been able to form some opinion on that subject. Some of us have the old-fashioned idea that women require protection, but if you put this in an Act of Parliament you are widening enormously the scope of the term "protection." You are saying that if any woman, for example, requires protection, some person should make an order for that purpose. The Clause would read just as well without these words, and the definition would then read quite straightforwardly.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member in the next Amendment proposes to leave out the words "of others" also. Could not the two Amendments be put together?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member proposes to leave out both the words "for their own protection or" and the words "of others."
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
The second is an alternative. If I cannot get this Amendment accepted, I will move the other one.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
On the point of Order. I think it is very usual to put down an Amendment which, if carried, would wipe out part of a Clause, and at the same time to put down Amendments to that part of the Clause which would be wiped out. That is what I have done in this case. If this Amendment is made, the subsequent Amendment would be unnecessary, but, if it is not made, then it becomes necessary to move the subsequent Amendment. I submit that is the usual practice.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I cannot see the connection between the two at all. If it has been the custom, it is quite a novelty to me.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I will withdraw this Amendment, and move the second one, to leave out the words "for the protection of 110 others." I regard these as the most dangerous words in the Bill. Who is to decide as to the protection of others? The hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Dr. Chapple) thinks that certain things are for the advantage of the race. Hon. Members opposite think that compulsory service is for the advantage of the race. Others think that compulsory segregation or compulsory education is for the advantage of the race. But what they think is not evidence, and I wish to have in this Clause a form of words which would not enable a magistrate or any other person to say that somebody requires protection. I think it is undesirable to leave in the Bill a form of words so absolutely vague and liable to be interpreted a hundred different ways by people of different temperaments. The ordinary way to interpret "protection of others" is to say that it is protection against absolute physical violence. If that could be made clear by the addition of these words, I would be satisfied, but I know that such an Amendment as that would not be accepted.
What the supporters of the Bill mean is not protection of people from violence, but the segregation of people so that they shall not have children. They mean to protect future generations who might be deteriorated in stamina or brain by having feeble-minded people for parents or grandparents. That is the kind of protection the hon. Member for Stirlingshire has in view, and it is also the kind of protection which the Home Office are after. If it is not so, would they be willing to insert the words "against physical danger." They will not accept these words, nor will they agree to the excision of the words I propose to omit. I am bound to believe, and I am fortified in the belief, that the object is not what appears on the surface, namely, the protection of these unfortunate people for their own benefit, or the protection of others from the danger of these mentally defective persons. What they wish is protection of the race and the building up of a finer type of people to be better wealth producers in the country. If the Government will accept words to provide against physical danger, I would withdraw my Amendment. In that case, I think the majority of hon. Members who have studied the question will agree that the Bill would be improved from the point of view of the mentally defective, whatever it might be from the point of view of Eugenics.
§ Mr. McKENNA
My hon. Friend has fallen into error with regard to this Clause. He stated in his first speech that it was a compulsory Clause. I assure him he is mistaken. It is a Definition Clause, and the words he proposes to omit are really a useful guide in the definition of a defective person. They are not operative in any sense themselves. The omission of these words would neither assist nor be detrimental to a mentally defective person. They would enable a doctor when certifying to have some light as to what was intended by the Legislature by this definition. I hope my hon. Friend who has misapprehended the purpose of the Clause will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what the Legislature does mean by the words? Do the Government mean to protect other people from physical danger, or to protect the community from the production of an inferior race?
§ Mr. McKENNA
If what my hon. Friend describes as powers of a Eugenic character underlie the Bill, there would be some point in his request, but he has to give us the powers which the Bill gives to deal with defectives. In order to ascertain what is meant by the protection of defectives for their own advantage or for the protection of others, I would have to go through the whole Bill to see how these words should be interpreted.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman has totally disregarded the question. I wish to know what ordinary interpretation he would put on the words, "for the protection of others." He says the Clause is not a compulsory, but a Definition Clause. That is the merest quibble. People who come within the scope of the Clause are to be compulsorily segregated. People can go into these institutions voluntarily without being inside the definition at all. I am sorry, as the Home Secretary will not accept this Amendment, or any similar Amendment, I shall be compelled to divide the House upon it.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I beg to move, in paragraph (c), to leave out the word "are" ["are incapable of receiving proper benefit"], and to insert instead therof the 112 words "that they by reason of such defectiveness appear to be permanently."
My hon. Friend the Member for Stirlingshire (Dr. Chapple) has pointed out to me that to make the Amendment in the form in which it appears on the Paper, in which the words are "defectiveness are permanently," would be to compel a doctor to take upon himself the character of a prophet, and therefore I have substituted for the word "are" the words "appear to be." The word "permanent" has a meaning which would apply to the future as well as the past. A doctor could form his opinion as to the past and come to a definite conclusion as to the future, but he would not like to say that any person would be permanently incapable. Therefore, in view of my hon. Friend's criticism, I have moved the Amendment to insert the words "that they by reason of such defectiveness appear to be permanently."
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I have given notice of an Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman has made another change in the wording of the Clause, and he was very careful to state that it does not affect the meaning.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
Will the hon. Member be in order if he moves to leave out the word "permanently," and would I be justified in opposing the Amendment?
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I am opposed to the Amendment to the Amendment, because it would take away the force of the Amendment as it appeared on the Paper. I thought we were going to get something. I thought the Government were going to make a proposal which would make the Clause watertight.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
Can the hon. Gentleman move an Amendment to an Amendment which has not yet been moved?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not criticising your Amendment. He is criticising the Amendment of the Government.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
The word "are," which I am talking about, is the one that comes before the word "permanently."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The word "are," which the Home Secretary proposes to leave out, is the one in paragraph (c) ["are incapable of receiving proper benefits from the instruction in ordinary schools"].
§ Question, "That the word 'are' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That the words, 'that they, by reason of such defectiveness, appear to be permanently,' be there inserted."
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "appear to be," and to insert instead thereof the word "are," which appears on the Paper before the Amendment was altered, at the instigation of the hon. Member for Stirlingshire.
I think that once you put in such a vague phrase as "appear to be" you might as well leave out the Amendment altogether. It is too ridiculously vague to be the slightest guide to a medical practitioner. There are certain types of disease which are permanent types of disease, which are recognised by drooping hands and the conformation of the skull, and various other physical signs. But if you are going to put in the words "appear to be permanent" any sort of disease can be brought within the scope of the definition. I would be in favour of the Government, as advised by their own permanent officials, rather than as advised by the hon. Member for Stirlingshire. The hon. Member is a doctor himself, and therefore a person who should be regarded with peculiar hesitation and suspicion before Amendments brought in are accepted in this off-hand way. The Government put down their Amendment after a consultation with their advisers in order to meet the very difficulties about which we have been talking, and they should stick to that Amendment.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment. I join the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme in protesting against such words as "appear to be" in a definition. They mean nothing at all. The one thing which physicians can do surely is to prophesy with regard to things of which they have evidence. Everyone can see that certain ailments, like a cut in the hand, are merely temporary, but there are other ailments, physical and mental, which are entirely different in their nature, and have definite signs, which a doctor can see, and if he cannot see them, then the person should not be locked up. This is the very idea of the Government in introducing the Amendment, and I hope that they will not snatch away with one hand what they promise to us with the other. I would very 114 much prefer that the Home Secretary should withdraw the Amendment altogether, rather than make it worse by putting in these words.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
The hon. Member for East St. Pancras, in his last speech but one, reminded us that the Home Secretary, in Committee, told us that these definitions had been so carefully discussed last year, that it was really not worth our while wasting time on them this year. The Under-Secretary this afternoon said that we had devoted six days to the discussion of this particular definition. It is absurd then that the Home Secretary should now, at the eleventh hour, put down this Amendment, and this afternoon put down an Amendment to that Amendment. At the same time, he has told us that the Amendment to the Amendment would not affect the meaning of the Clause. Of course, it affects the meaning of the Clause. It makes his former Amendment absolutely meaningless. I object strongly both to this Amendment and to the former Amendment, because, in its former Amendment the Clause would read:—Children who by reason of such defectness are permanently incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools.How is it possible to say that a child at the age of seven will never be able to benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools? The right hon. Gentleman told us a short time ago that all special school children came under this heading, anyhow came under the heading "feeble-minded persons" under this Bill. Tie knows perfectly well that a very large proportion of the children in special schools do pass into the ordinary schools after a certain time. I am not going to argue now whether it is right that these special schools should be continued, or remain under the Board of Education or not. But I maintain that in certain cases it would be absolutely impossible to set up special day schools. The Bill provides for that. On the top of page 3 provision is made that where the Board of Education can certify that no suitable special school or class is available, the special school children, that is to say, the children who in ordinary circumstances would go to a special school, are sent to an institution under the Board of Control. How can you say that those children will never be able to benefit from instruction in an ordinary school? It is quite possible that, after some time, even those children who are under the Board of Control, will be 115 able to benefit in an ordinary school, and we ought to have power to send those children back to an ordinary elementary school. Therefore, I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should not make these Amendments in the Bill at the last moment, but that he should stick to the definitions which were passed by the Committee upstairs. I hope that we shall accept neither his Amendment nor the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newcastle.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
This Bill contemplates the improvement of many of those who come under its provisions. Improvement may be expected in many cases where feeble-mindedness is not due to arrested development of the brain. There may be many oases of feeble-mindedness where the origin of the condition is not known. You may have feeble-mindedness due to malnutrition, and there may be recovery after a child has been properly fed for some time. Or it may be due to special circumstances such as convulsions. It is impossible for a doctor to say of a child of seven, "This child is feeble-minded and can never improve." You could say that of an idiot or of an imbecile, or of a feeble-minded person whose feeble-minded-ness is obviously due to arrested development of the brain. But you could not say it of those exceptional cases due to other causes. Consequently, if you are going to make this test no doctor could sign a certificate, no doctor could say, "This child of seven or eight is feeble-minded now and shall remain for ever so." Doctors would not put their signatures to a certificate of that kind. The Bill contemplates the gradual improvement of many children. Some children may get in who really are not feeble-minded, but who are backward, children whose brains are normal, but who through some other reasons may manifest conditions of feeblemindedness. Unless you have these words "appear to be," it would be better not to have the Amendment at all. If the right hon. Gentleman withdraws the whole Amendment as suggested by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme that would be a solution of the question. If he does not withdraw the Amendment, those words "appear to be" ought to go in.
I think that some Amendment is absolutely necessary, because the words are too wide, and are open to all the objections which have been mentioned 116 by the hon. Member. The words as they stand are:—
"In the case of children, are incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools."
There is not a word there about mental deficiency in any of those children, so that any child whether mentally deficient or not is liable to come under the Bill. The first part of the Clause referring to the permanent deficiency is not incorporated in the last part which stands by itself. The Home Secretary says that it does not. Those of us who are accustomed to construing Acts of Parliament for many years will agree that if a judge were construing that portion of the Clause itself he would take this view. It reads:—
"Persons in whose case there exists from birth or from an early age mental defectiveness not amounting to imbecility, yet so pronounced that they require care, supervision and control for their own protection or for the protection of others …"
It then goes on to say:—
"or in the case of children are incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools."
That stands absolutely by itself.
§ 7.0 P.M.
I do not wish to undergo a cross-examination in grammar, because once you begin to criticise the grammar of this Bill it would never pass. The grammar is the weakest point in the Bill in many respects. The right hon. Gentleman is not responsible for the grammar. The draftsman is, and the Committee altered it, and some parts of it are exceedingly difficult to construe. Some Amendment is, therefore, necessary, if I am right that those words stand by themselves. The Home Secretary's words that he put in seem to me to meet the situation, but with one exception. The insertion of the word "permanently" has caused the whole difficulty here. If he had left his Amendment to read in this way in the case of children that "by reason of such defectiveness are incapable," that would be quite sufficient. To decide that they are for ever permanently incapable is impossible. If he says they are for a time and likely to continue so for some time, that is sufficient. The difficulty will be solved, I 117 submit, by leaving out the word "permanently" and replacing the word "are."
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I really think that the original form of the Amendment was best, though I do not think it makes very much difference. The hon. Member is somewhat under a misapprehension as to the meaning of the word "permanently." Permanent does not mean lasting for ever. We say a man is a permanent official, but we do not mean that he cannot be dismissed, but simply that he holds by a lasting tenure. Permanent means lasting, and in this connection not a temporary defectiveness, but a defectiveness which is likely to last the greater part of the child's life. I am not sure whether medical men do not use the word "chronic" to express that idea. I would suggest to the Home Secretary to adhere to the original form of the Amendment, and so close the discussion.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think a great deal too much is being made of these words. We wish to make clear in the case of children that the incapacity to take advantage of the schools is by reason of mental defectiveness, and it is in order to get rid of the notion that it is mere backwardness or laziness or any other quality, but that it is because the children are incapable of getting benefit from the schools, and that the reason of that incapacity is because they are mentally defective. As to the word "permanently" the Noble Lord has really given the explanation, and we insert it because we want to distinguish whenever it is necessary mental defectiveness from other kinds of mental illness. Ordinary mental illness may be cured just as physical illness may be cured. There are occasions when physical illness is incurable just as there are occasions when mental illness is incurable. But mental defectiveness is a condition of arrested development which is permanent. It is quite possible that science may discover hereafter a means of effecting even a cure for that, and of developing the brain, but at the present time mental defectiveness is a condition of arrested development which is permanent in its nature.
§ Mr. McKENNA
There is nothing whatever in Clause 2 to prevent a child being sent backwards and forwards from the special school to the ordinary school, 118 and from the ordinary school to the special school. This definition does not touch that. It is only a guide to the doctor who has to give a certificate. You must get the children under this Clause, and under Clause 2 as well, before you can deal with them under the Bill. This does not mean that anybody included under this will be dealt with under the Bill, but only such persons as are included in this definition and who come under Clause 2 as well will be dealt with under the Bill.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
It is a very great pity that the Government, having had this matter two years under consideration, and having had the same definition last year and this, through the Home Secretary, should, two days ago, give notice of such a very important and drastic Amendment. The height of absurdity is reached when, to-day, the Home Secretary tells us that in obedience to the suggestion of a medical man sitting on his own side, he is going to alter the words "to appear to be." Although this seems, at first glance, to be rather trifling, I think it is really an important point, because certain classes of people in future are going to be compulsorily locked up or taken care of, and prevented from associating with their fellow men. It is a very important thing, therefore, when a child is being dealt with by a medical man, and when he is going to give a certificate on which depends whether that child is to be removed from association with others or not. It may be the case of a girl of thirteen or fourteen years of age, and a question arises: Is that girl to be locked up and segregated from the rest of the people? The medival man says, "Let us look at the Act of Parliament." He does not know the astonishing course of events in this House, and he probably signs the certificate. His excuse is probably, "Oh, yes, it appeared to me to be a case of that kind." He was not satisfied that there was permanent incapacity, but there was the appearance. We are asked to alter this Bill at this stage at the instance of the Government by putting in these words about "permanently," and we are asked at the last moment to make a farce of the whole thing and to put it into the hands of the medical profession. Ordinary members of the medical profession will not, we know, give a certificate of this kind, without very grave and very careful consideration, but we know also that forty or fifty years ago people were sent to asylums, and we know of the horrors 119 that took place in some of those, and now we are going to start afresh the system of locking people up and segregating them at a moment's notice, and to allow medical men to act upon something that appears to be the case. I think the Home Secretary will be well advised to leave both these Amendments out and certainly to withdraw the second Amendment which is an astonishing one and against which I would vote.
§ Captain JESSEL
I wish to ask the Home Secretary not to put himself in a similar difficulty again. We had the whole question of these Amendments threshed out over and over again upstairs, and we thought some permanent settlement had been arrived at about these definitions. We spent many weary days up there and now we are told two days before this stage, that this definition is going to be altered and some further Amendments made. I should prefer the words as they are actually in the Bill, and on behalf of my Friends who supported the Home Secretary through the Committee stage may I say we are somewhat
§ astonished that at the instigation of some other Members of the House he has allowed himself to put down an Amendment which in my humble opinion does not advance the cause of the Bill one bit, about which too much time has already been wasted. I shall certainly vote against the word "permanently." I understand that "are" being left out there are difficulties in the way of inserting it back again. I would like to suggest the words "by reason of such defectiveness are incapable," which will get it what it was before and will meet my hon. Friends point that feeble-minded persons had no relation to this provision. By that means we do nothing to disturb the existing definitions which were passed with such care by the Committee. The words will make the matter more explicit. I trust the Home Secretary will consider that suggestion.
§ Question put, "That the words 'appear to be,' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 230; Noes, 78.121
|Division No. 209.]||AYES.||[7.10 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Clough, William||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Clynes, John R.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Adamson, William||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Hackett, John|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hancock, J. G.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Cowan, W. H.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)|
|Allen, Rt Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Crumley, Patrick||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Cullinan, John||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hayward, Evan|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hazleton, Richard|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S)||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Dawes, James Arthur||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barnes, George N.||Delany, William||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Barton, William||Devlin, Joseph||Higham, John Sharp|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Hinds, John|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Dickinson, W. H.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Dillon, John||Hodge, John|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Donelan, Captain A.||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Doris, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Duffy, William J.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Boland, John Plus||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Duncan. J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||John, Edward Thomas|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Nots, Rushcliffe)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Joyce, Michael|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Keating, Matthew|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Kelly, Edward|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Field, William||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Fitzgibbon, John||Kilbride, Denis|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||King, Joseph|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Ginnell, Laurence||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Glanville, H. J.||Leach, Charles|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Goldstone, Frank||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Lundon, Thomas||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Lynch, A. A.||O'Shee, James John||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Sutherland, John E.|
|McGhee, Richard||Parry, Thomas H.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Thomas, James Henry|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Pointer, Joseph||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Radford, G. H.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Meagher, Michael||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Wardle, George J.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Reddy, Michael||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Molloy, Michael||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Webb, H.|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Mooney, John J.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Morgan, George Hay||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Morison, Hector||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Muldoon, John||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Munro, Robert||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles M. (Doncaster)||Robinson, Sidney||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Norton, Captain Cecil William||Rowlands, James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Winfrey, Richard|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Scanlan, Thomas||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|O'Dowd, John||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|O'Grady, James||Sheehy, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|O'Malley, William||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Helmsley, Viscount||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hills, John Waller||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Barnston, Harry||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hogge, James Myles||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Horner, Andrew Long||Stanier, Beville|
|Bird, Alfred||Houston, Robert Paterson||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Boyton, James||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Butcher, John George||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Swift, Rigby|
|Cautley, Henry Strothor||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Martin, Joseph||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Down, North)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Morrell, Philip||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Mount, William Arthur||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Neilson, Francis||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||Newman, John R. P.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fell, Arthur||Perkins, Walter F.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Peto, Basil Edward||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Pringle, William M. R.||Younger, Sir George|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Wedgwood and Mr. Benniss.|
|Gretton, John||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.
§ Words inserted in the Bill.
§ Further Amendment made: In paragraph (c) leave out the word "are" ["children are incapable of receiving"] and insert instead thereof the words "that they by reason of such defectiveness appear to be permanently."—[Mr. McKenna.]122
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to move in paragraph (c) to leave out the word "ordinary" ["instruction in ordinary schools"], and to insert instead thereof the words "special school or class."
This is a very important Amendment dealing with a point raised in every speech which has criticised the definition of "feeble-minded person." At present the 123 definition runs, so far as children are concerned,
"are incapable of receiving the proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools."
I want to alter that by saying instead of "ordinary schools," "special schools or classes." Everybody is agreed that it is much too wide a definition of feeblemindedness to say that every child too backward to get on in an ordinary elementary school should be classed as a defective person. There is a large measure of agreement for saying that every child not capable of taking proper advantage of special schools or classes should be considered to be mentally defective. The Home Secretary said in his speech just now that the people to be dealt with are those people who are weeded out of the special schools and classes rather than those people who are weeded out of ordinary elementary schools. This alteration will make that quite clear. This alteration is one which I believe will meet his view. No one would class as mentally defective a child too backward to take advantage of the ordinary elementary school education. But we all want to have classed as defective such children as are unable to take full advantage of special schools or classes.
The scheme is that children in these special schools and classes between the ages of seven and sixteen will gradually be weeded out, and that one-third or one-half of the children between those ages will be found to be not capable of taking advantage of the education provided in special schools, and will, therefore, be weeded out. Those are the people who we all want to have dealt with; and those are the people whom we think this Act will benefit. This is an alteration in the definition which, I believe, will meet with the support of the House. I think, if the Government will give it their careful consideration, they will allow it to be adopted. The only reason, as I understand it, why the words "ordinary school" remain in in place of "special school," is because there are in so many parts of the country no special schools. That is only a temporary state of affairs. In a very few years these special schools will be universal, and as soon as they are universal then your definition will hold water perfectly satisfactorily: A transitional period has to be dealt with. When we are making a law which shall be a permanent part of our jurisprudence and shall for all time dis- 124 tinguish the mentally defective person from the normal person, we should take a broad view and not so cut our definition, that it is incapable of dealing with the temporary circumstances of the present day. If the Home Secretary and the House really mean to deal simply with children who cannot be educated in special schools, either because they are too nervous, or because their habits are offensive, or because they cannot take advantage of the special instruction, let them make it clear in the definition and let them not so word the definition as to embrace children incapable of receiving instruction in ordinary schools. You make arrangements in Section 2 to deal with children not in special schools, children weeded out in the nine years between the ages of seven and sixteen, and childen who, when they reach sixteen, are picked out by the education authority as being in need of further care and supervision. Why not make the definition in Section 1 coincide with that? I therefore beg to move.
§ Amendment not seconded.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to move in paragraph (c), after the word "ordinary" ["instruction in ordinary schools"] to insert the words "public elementary."
The fact that I got no seconder for the other Amendment only indicates the interest which the House takes in this Bill. The reason for this Amendment is that I do not know what an "ordinary school" is; everybody knows what an "ordinary public elementary school" is. The word "ordinary" has been used here so as to try to conceal the fact that this Bill is class legislation, legislation for the poor only. There is no possibility of testing the rich man's child. He may or may not be receiving benefit in these schools. It is only the children of poor people that are being dealt with. I cannot understand why, if this is so, it is not explicitly stated to be so, instead of being left vague, as it is at the present time. I do not know what an "ordinary school" is. I know what an "ordinary public elementary school" is. If that is what is intended it ought to be stated. If, on the other hand, you mean something else by an ordinary school, something that is entirely different from the public elementary school, in that case it would be well that we should have some explanation from the Home Secretary as to what exactly is intended by the words "ordinary school."
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I beg to second the Amendment. I quite agree with the hon. Member that "ordinary school" has no legal meaning whatever. The usual term is "ordinary public elementary school." That is the term used in the Elementary Education Act of 1899. I therefore think the right hon. Gentleman should really accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The words "ordinary schools" are in contradistinction to the words "special schools." It is a very strange thing that the hon. Member himself should want to introduce words into this Bill that stamps it as clans legislation, of which we want even to avoid the suspicion. The only thing that can be said for the Amendment is that it is a sort of verbal expansion of the Subsection.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The defence of the Bill by the Under-Secretary, though perhaps convenient and plausible, is not quite a satisfactory one. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Definition Clause of the Bill he will see that the special school or class is a special school or class within the meaning of the Elementary Education (Defective and Epileptic Children) Acts. Take any middle-class family that send their child to a small privately managed school. We heard some very incisive and scathing descriptions of some of these schools from the President of the Board of Education— and some of them deserve it, for they are scandalous—but it would not do to make the instruction given in that sort of school and the methods of instruction the test as to whether or not the child is mentally deficient. I do not think that you gain very much by the expression "ordinary schools," but the matter is not worth while detaining the House for. I should have thought on the face of it that the Amendment was rather more reasonable than otherwise.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I should like to suggest to the Home Secretary that instead of adhering to the word "ordinary," he should put in the word "special." If he will remember, certain Clauses of an Act which the Under-Secretary seems to have forgotten provides that taking in conjunction with the Elementary Education Act that a boy—
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker; perhaps I may say this, that a special school is a class or department to which the child is sent if it is found to be incapable of receiving instruction in the ordinary classes—
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I beg to move, in paragraph (d), to leave out the words "who from an early age display some permanent mental defect coupled with strong vicious or criminal propensities on which punishment has little or no deterrent effect," and to insert instead thereof the words "who, by reason of arrested development or disease of the brain dating from birth or from early years, display at an early age vicious or criminal propensities which are of an incorrigible or unusual nature and are generally associated with some slight limitation of intellect."
Nothing in the Sub-section is said as to what is the age at which the punishment has been or is to be inflicted, or whether it has been or is to be done by domestic punishment by parents or guardians, or by criminal punishment under the criminal law, nor how this deterrent effect of punishment is to be in any way decided. The words of the Amendment are very definite; but the words in the Sub-section do not seem to me to have at all any very definite or intelligible meaning. At the same time, I do not wish to press the Amendment. I should like the Government to explain what meaning they attach to these words in the Sub-section, especially the closing-words relating to punishment.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I should myself have no objection if we were starting the Bill afresh to take the words put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, instead of the words which stand in the Bill, because they both mean precisely the same thing. The words which stand in the 127 Bill were considered by the Committee at considerable length. I think they are good words, precisely emphasising the kind of person with whom we hope to deal. There is probably in the mind of every Member in the House a certain type of person who, like Jane Cakebread, has been convicted some hundreds of times. She is exactly the kind of person whom we hope to deal with under this particular Sub-section. She and persons like her develop at a very early age what we call moral imbecility. It appears that from the very earliest age they suffer from some moral defect without being at all bad persons in the ordinary sense of the term, and even not being criminals in the ordinary sense. You may send them to prison not a hundred or two hundred times, but some hundreds, as in the case of Jane Cakebread, but this kind of punishment has not the slightest effect. She was really a feeble-minded person. It is not a very large class, but it is a class which we hope to deal with under this Section, which must be read in its entirety —that is to say, he or she must be a person who, from a very early age, has displayed some permanent mental defect, and, coupled with that permanent mental defect, must be of some vicious or criminal propensity. We have endeavoured so far as we can to define these vicious propensities. The words we have chosen are words for those persons on which punishment has little or no deterrent effect; but we mean precisely the same thing as in the very excellent words of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh. I hope the House will agree to stand by the Grand Committee in its proposal and to adhere to these words.
§ Mr. J. M. HOGGE
I hope the Noble Lord will not press the Amendment. The reason it is down in my name and also various other Amendments, is that while discussing the Definition Clause in the Scottish Grand Committee, we refrained from continuing our criticisms on the ground that the definitions for both Bills ought to be the same, and we were given to understand that if any alterations were made in the English Bill they would also apply to the Scottish Bill. I think everybody will agree that to alter the definitions in the Bills as they stand, we should only be prolonging time before we come to a conclusion, and therefore we thought it better to concentrate upon the administrative Clauses instead of these Amendments.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I will not press it to a Division, but I gathered from the Home Secretary that the acts he contemplated are criminal acts. I think there is a widespread misconception as to what is the meaning of the words "early age." I confess I think it ought to be limited. I understand the hon. Member opposite has another Amendment dealing with this matter, and I shall reserve any further criticisms for that.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
This Clause is not meant to deal particularly or chiefly with Jane Cakebread's. I think it is mean to deal chiefly with prostitutes, and we want to be careful not to widen the Clause to such an extent that people who are puritanical by tendency will be able to lock all prostitutes up. We want to see there is no loophole left in the definition to embrace people whose moral defect is of that sort, and I am afraid the example of Jane Cakebread is not of much value. I do not think the Home Secretary knows what moral or mental state is in early infancy. The definition, it seems to me, might very well exclude Jane Cakebread's, and might also include all those people, such as prostitutes, as feeble-minded persons. I am afraid this definition of moral imbecile as its stands might be twisted to that purpose. Therefore, I think it is just as well that we ought to look into the Amendments proposed to this Clause very carefully and see that we make it sufficiently clear that a mere moral lapse, even of a very bad sort, it is true, but still a lapse of morality, should not be sufficient to result in incarceration in a feebled-minded institution.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I beg to move, in paragraph (d), to leave out the words "from an early age" ["that is to say, persons who from an early age display some permanent mental defect"].
This is an entirely different matter from that which has just been disposed of. There are moral imbeciles who are not so from an early age. Let me give two examples which I think ought to come under the provisions of this Bill. There was the case of a young man of twenty-five whom I once knew who got a cut on the forehead which separated the tables of 129 the skull, and ever afterwards, although previously entirely normal and of a high character, he was a moral imbecile. He had no power of self-control; his will was entirely gone. That is a case that was a fit subject to come under this Bill, yet he was not a moral imbecile from an early age. Not infrequently both men and women get hæmorrhage of the brain and the pressure of the clot will produce a moral and mental defect which will express itself in moral imbecility. There you have a question of moral imbecility which started from injury to the brain, but not from early age, but which produced mental defects. Sunstroke frequently produces moral imbecility which does not manifest itself in any way except in loss of moral power. If we strike out the words "from an early age" we would bring these cases in and we would embrace all cases, whether congenital defects of the brain or whether produced by some disorder such as I have mentioned. Diseases of the brain producing melancholia or insanity come under the Lunacy Act, but where the lesion referred to produces moral defects, I think it ought to be included in the scope of this Act.
§ Mr. WHYTE
I beg to second the Amendment.
A case was put very strongly before me that this Bill ought to deal with recidivists, as there has been a considerable difficulty found in dealing with "ins" and "outs," and the suggestion was made that instead of saying that they should have the ordinary punishment of the criminal law, some special form of treatment under this Bill might be used for these persons on the ground that probably it is advisable to treat such persons as "ins" and "outs" as moral imbeciles.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I regret that it is impossible for me to recommend the House to accept this Amendment. The Bill proposes to deal with mental diseases and particular diseases which have manifested themselves from birth or an early age. We cannot, therefore, accept an Amend-which would greatly extend the Bill, and give point to the charge made by my hon. Friend (Mr. Wedgwood) that it would be possible to affect people whom it is not intended to affect. We must adhere to the Bill as it stands with all its safeguards.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
It seems to me you could not have a more magnificent example than this discussion affords of 130 how necessary it is that women should have the vote.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to move, in paragraph (d), to leave out the words "an early age," and to insert instead thereof the words "three years of age."
I am informed that infancy means up to twenty-one years of age, and although that is definite enough it seems to me to be too late. The meaning of an early age, as I understand it, is two or three years of age. Moral imbeciles are those persons who from the age of three or before display some permanent mental defect coupled with strong, vicious, or criminal propensities. I am given to understand that the Home Secretary interprets early age to mean the age of two or three. It is obvious that so long as vague words remain in the Bill you will have it interpreted in different ways by those who have the administration of the Act. We think early age contemplates the ages of two or three or what they call infancy, and therefore I wish the paragraph to read "moral imbeciles, that is to say, persons who from three years of age display some permanent mental defect coupled with strong, vicious, or criminal propensities." [Laughter.] I am sorry hon. Gentlemen opposite do not see the importance of this Amendment. I am quite aware they think it would be a good thing to have as many people as possible locked up. I am one of those who wish to see as few people as possible locked up, and I want the age to be put as early as possible to make quite sure that the people dealt with here are really feeble-minded, and not to have people locked up whom the Home Secretary desires, or whom the Conservative party desires to see locked up. We want mental deficiency to mean mental deficiency from an early age, and I am therefore anxious to make it clear that infancy means three years of age and not to leave the matter to the judgment of cranks.
§ Amendment not seconded.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to move in paragraph (d), to leave out the word "mental" ["display some permanent mental defect"], and to insert instead thereof the word "moral."
This is a drafting Amendment, but it seems to me important. You are dealing with mentally defective persons and the use of the word "mental" here seems to 131 me to be tautological. If they have a mental defect they are mentally defective, and I suggest therefore in the interests of common sense we should strike out the word "mental," and insert the word "moral."
§ Amendment not seconded.
§ Mr. ACLAND ALLEN
I beg to move in paragraph (d), to leave out the words "on which punishment has little or no deterrent effect."
I do not think these words add anything to the sense of the Sub-section, and I think they may have a very mischievous meaning. I do not altogether appreciate the examples given by the Home Secretary just now when he referred to the case of Jane Cakebread. I hope this Bill is designed to do away with such cases. Surely, the whole object of this Bill is to take away from those mentally defective from early years such careers as those of Jane Cakebread. We want to take care of those people before they have become vicious in that way. The words of the Sub-section as they stand really remind one of the old days when it was thought that the cure for lunacy was to give a man a good thrashing. I hope we have advanced beyond that, and I should like to have some explanation from the Home Secretary as to what he really does mean.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I second the Amendment, which I think is one of some importance. It is impossible to see how the Court would interpret the Sub-section. They could not have the defective tortured in order to see whether it did or not produce a deterrent effect, and how will you decide what measure of punishment is to be considered sufficient to prove that the mentally deficient person comes within the terms of the Sub-section?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I regret that I cannot accept the proposal of my hon. Friend. It would extend the scope of this definition very much if we accepted the Amendment. The case of Jane Cakebread was quoted by me as a case which was recently in the mind of all of us, but there are others now living who would have to be dealt with under this Bill and who have long since passed the school age. I quite agree that thirty years hence we shall hope that all people of this kind will have been brought under the operation of the Bill at a much younger age than Jane Cakebread was, 132 but we have to deal with criminals of that kind now. The reason why I think we have to insert these words is because experience must have shown, in the case of these persons, that they are a kind of person on whom ordinary punishment has no deterrent effect. This is a definition Clause, and unless we put in some words of that kind we shall be proposing to treat moral imbeciles in a manner in which we do not treat any other class of defective person under the Bill. It will be found in Clause 2 that except in the case of children nobody can be treated as a defective person under the Bill who has not done something which has brought them in contact with the law. In the case of moral imbeciles, we propose that they shall if by evidence it can be shown that punishment has not had, in fact, a deterrent effect upon them. But omitting the words would be to leave the case of moral imbeciles upon a conjecture. We do not propose, in the case of any defective person under the Bill, that it shall be left merely to conjecture in order to give power to deal with them. There must be a proved case, and we propose in the case of moral imbeciles also that it must have been proved that punishment in their case has had no deterrent effect.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I can quite understand these actual words being open to some objection. I quite agree with the intention of the Government and with the intention of the Bill, but I do think these words are perhaps a little too drastic, and that it would be better if some other words could be substituted for them. I would like to suggest these words: "and who have been found to be incorrigible by ordinary methods." I think that is really all that the Government want, and these words appear to me to be a good deal better. They do not lend themselves to people to blaspheme, and to say that you have got to torture a person to find out whether he is incorrigible or not. Moral influence, persuasion, and so forth might be more effective in reforming these people than punishment, and yet they would come within the definition of incorrigible, so I venture to suggest to the Home Secretary this alternative form of words.
§ Mr. J. WARD
It is not the point put by the Noble Lord I am concerned about. It is quite a new form of offence against Society to be a moral imbecile, and looking at these words I was thinking how I myself might get on if they became 133 law. I feel certain that I should answer almost everyone of them except the word "vicious," to which I do not plead guilty; but I have done things which some people consider to be criminal, and that no amount of punishment has over prevented me from doing, because I did not think they were criminal. That seems certainly to be a case which one can sympathise with, and which one sees very much in evidence at the present time. Take the case of the man who is fond of poaching. If he were a wealthy man, and could hunt, and could thoroughly enjoy his sport, he would not he a poacher. It is the old propensity of the hunter that makes the poacher as a rule, and he will keep on poaching from the time he is a boy till he is an old man, find you can put him into prison a hundred times, and still he does it. Is he a moral imbecile upon whom punishment has no deterrent effect?
§ Mr. J. WARD
There are plenty of old squires who would think it was a mental defect. Those gentlemen who like foxhunting and pheasants, and who do not like them to be destroyed, do not like a man who cannot see the illegality and the criminality of it, and who, because he has no pheasants of his own, started to shoot other people's. It seems to me that a case of that kind might be included. I venture to suggest that there must be something different to these words. Take the case that is greatly agitating society just now, and that is the case of the Suffragettes. As a matter of fact, I should imagine that you could land everyone of them under these words. I would like some lawyer to point out to me how you could not. Certainly, they are criminal to burn people's places down, without any object at all, apparently, except to destroy the chances of the cause they are supposed to advocate. Surely, that must be imbecile and criminal. It seems to me to meet almost every one of the points, and the Clause seems dangerous just as it stands. Even supporting the Bill as I do, I would like to be sure that you were not passing a law to deal with what you believe to be one phase of mental deficiency, which everybody is agreed ought to be controlled, and then some lawyer comes along—and you never know what lawyers may do—and extends the principle to things which you never contemplated. I think there ought to be some saving words in this Clause.
§ Captain JESSEL
I hope the Home Secretary will not accept the Amendment. It is very difficult, once we get an involved discussion about the particular form of words, to know when to finish. We have spent weeks upon these definitions, and these are the best that we can arrive at. It is extremely easy to criticise and to make these definitions. The hon. Member who spoke last need not be under any alarm, because these are only definition Clauses. He ought to read Clause 2, where he may see the persons to whom these cases are applicable. He should read the definitions in conjunction with Clause 2, and he will see that the Bill is not nearly so alarming as it appears from the definition Clauses. All the suggestions he made are strictly met by Clause 2. As I said at the beginning, I hope the Home Secretary will not make any alterations to this Clause. I do not think any practical good is likely to come out of it, because it is a matter which has been very carefully considered.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think the Noble Lord opposite (Lord Helmsley) has suggested a form of words which meets all the Amendments on the. Paper, and which I think would apply satisfactorily. He proposes to substitute for these words the words, "and who have been found to be incorrigible by ordinary methods." It is the same meaning but avoids some of the pitfalls in the existing words, and if that were in accordance with the general wishes of the House, I would be quite prepared to leave out these words and to accept the Amendment of the Noble Lord, if he will move it.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I regret very much that the Home Secretary has accepted any change in these words. I quite realise the difficulties, but this definition was one arrived at by the Royal Commission in these exact words, and it was arrived at after consultation with a great number of mental experts, and also after consultation with the Royal College of Physicians. It is a very difficult thing to define a moral imbecile, and this definition in the Bill was proposed by those who knew all the facts and whose object it was to put the facts of life in regard to these moral imbeciles into a definition which will meet the case. That was discussed not only by the witnesses before the Royal Commission, but also at considerable length by the Royal Commission itself, by the Committee upstairs last year and by the Committee upstairs this year, and we have not been able 135 to find any better words. At this last moment the words suggested by the Noble Lord I do not think would be any improvement. If we are going to bring into this class persons who must have been punished in one way or another, I think you may be making a mistake. There is, first of all, the permanent mental defect at an early age—that is congenital imbecility of a kind. Secondly, it must be coupled with a strong vicious propensity, on which propensity punishment has little or no deterrent effect, and that is the whole question, whether the person has sufficient intellect to connect the punishment with the crime. Punishment has no effect on the moral imbecile, because he is unable to connect the punishment with the crime, and that is what is meant by these words, "on whom punishment has little or no deterrent effect." It always has been a difficulty to find the right words, and I doubt very much whether the words suggested at the last moment by the Noble Lord and accepted by the Home Secretary are really an improvement on the Clause.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I hope the Home Secretary does not intend to accept this suggestion. Let me point out in a few words what the operation of this Section will be. In the first place, anybody who is found to be, in the opinion of a doctor, obsessed by a mental defect, and to have vicious or criminal propensities, may be sent to a place of confinement as a mentally defective, in the first place on a petition; secondly, if he happens to be in an industrial school, on a mere letter of cachet of the Home Secretary, with absolutely no protection beyond the medical certificates given by the officers of the industrial school or reformatory or prison in which the person is confined; and thirdly, he may be sent under an order. Surely the Home Secretary must, on reflection, agree that there should be proof that the person has strong vicious or criminal propensities! How are you going to get that proof? The only effective proof you can get is that proof which we lawyers are accustomed to receive as proof, namely, that the person has been convicted twice, or more times, and that the punishment has proved to be no deterrent. To leave it entirely in the discretion of the Home Secretary, or to a magistrate on petition, to send a young person who is detained in an industrial school because his parent or his guardian or his schoolmaster, or possibly a stranger, states that 136 he is a person incorrigible, is, to my mind, one of the most ridiculous travesties in law one could conceive. There is absolutely no protection for the liberty of the subject, and I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to adhere to the Clause as it stands, subject, I hope, to the acceptance of an Amendment which I propose to move. I think that it is a reasonable one. It is really that the punishment shall be punishment by law, i.e., by a Court of Criminal Jurisdiction. I would, therefore, venture most strongly to urge that to make this extraordinary departure from the elementary principles of criminal jurisprudence requires; something more than the advice of medical men. I need hardly comment upon this Section, because it is full of words which to lawyers have no meaning. What is a moral imbecile? In the very next paragraph we are told that a moral imbecile is a mentally defective. They are not necessarily the same. Thirdly, we are told that he has vicious propensities. The logic is almost as bad as the grammar. The grammar goes on to say "on which punishment." I have considered this Clause very carefully, and I do really most urgently press upon the-Home Secretary to revert to the Clause as it was originally drawn.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The speech of the hon. Member and of others leads me to conclude that there is not the smallest chance of the Amendment of the Noble Lord being accepted, and, therefore, I have no-alternative except to adhere to the Clause as it stands.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I desire to say why I ask the Home Secretary to adhere to his words. I quite appreciate the object of the Noble Lord, but, if the Home Secretary will look at the words that are suggested, he will find that he is getting on very dangerous ground. He is using the word "incorrigible," which may mean something quite different from that which the Noble Lord means. I remember those two lines very well in Committee. We worked on them some time and discussed them very fully, and I both recollect and confirm all that has been said by the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Captain Jessel). We endeavoured to find some definition of a moral imbecile, and we got so far as the words "coupled with strong vicious or criminal propensities." It was then said by somebody, "you have not taken any steps to cure these propensities by punish- 137 ment, and, before deciding that they are mentally defective, you ought to proceed by some of the ordinary methods." Very well, here are the words, "But which punishment has little or no deterrent effect." If you accept the words of the Noble Lord you introduce words well known in Police Courts. If a person is found to be incorrigible by ordinary methods, what does that mean? It means that, after having been treated by the criminal law, he is found to be incorrigible. That is not what the Committee mean, and it is not what they want. They would be startled if they found that they were introducing as a qualification to what we hope will be the humane treatment under this Bill that the poor defective must go through a number of attendances and sentences at the Police Court until it has been found by Police Court methods that he is incorrigible. That is not the object of the Bill, and I am quite certain that it is not the intention of this House. They do not want all that unfortunate treatment meted out to the poor defective; they want to deal with him in a much kinder way than that. I, therefore, think that the words of the Noble Lord fail of their object, and I hope that the Homo Secretary will adhere to the words that have been adopted after very careful consideration by two Committees and by the doctors.
§ Mr. MARTIN
When the hon. Gentleman refers to the consideration in Committee he must be referring to last year and not to this year.
§ Mr. MARTIN
Yes, not this Session. There was no consideration of this particular Sub-section this Session so far as I have been able to remember, and I wish to protest very vigorously against the two speeches made by the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Captain Jessel), in which he led the House to understand that there was free discussion upstairs, and that it was only after careful labour and thought that the Committee passed this Clause. That is not my recollection at all. There was, so far as I am aware, no discussion upstairs at all on this particular Sub-section.
§ Mr. MARTIN
That may be so, but I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that it was this year there was a long and careful consideration of this Sub-clause. Surely we have got nothing to do with what occurred last year. That is all dead and gone. We are going on this year's proceedings. In Committee upstairs there was no discussion on any point or principle of importance in this Bill. Small points of drafting and unimportant provisions were discussed and Amendments made, but when it came to a Clause like this we got the answer, which has been given this afternoon, that it was a Clause drawn up by the Royal Commission, and we must not touch a word of it. That was the whole point of the discussion upstairs in regard to any point of importance or of real principle. We could get a change in regard to drafting, but on anything like the question now before us the hon. Member for North St. Pancras came with the statement that those were the words the Royal Commission had advised, and that they, being experts, were far better able to legislate than many Members of the House of Commons. I protest against this House thinking for a moment that they should pass this Bill through as it is because there has been such a careful and prolonged discussion upstairs. As a matter of fact, there was no discussion whatever. I quite agree that if the Clause is not to be modified as the Amendment proposes, the wording as it is would be very much better than the wording proposed by the Noble Lord.
I appeal to the Government to go further, and not only refuse the suggestion, but also to strike out those words. They will have a definition which will be quite sufficient for the purpose of the Bill without those words, and if they do that they will at any rate show that they are not, after all, bound down to the very words given, with the i's dotted by the Royal Commission. I object to that kind of legislation. I am aware that a number of Gentlemen have devoted their time for months to this one question, but that is 139 not the point; the House of Commons, after all, is surely the final judge. I do think, after the pertinent arguments we have had, and after the very strong arguments advanced by the Mover of the Amendment, who is one of the most faithful supporters of the Bill, that the Government ought to be willing to give us a chance to modify the extreme rigour of this Bill. It is all very well for the Home Secretary to say that it is not a rigorous Bill, and that it does not send people to gaol. We read it and we find these things in it, and when we seek to modify some particular Sub-section, the answer is, "You will destroy the whole Bill if you change the wording." It surely cannot, be that, if you leave out these words, the Bill will be in any respect weaker than at present. The only difference it will make will be the giving way to those of us who, while not objecting to the principle of the Bill, do object to the very harsh and rigorous way in which the defectives are taken hold of and sent to gaol for all their lives. I do appeal to the Home Secretary to accept this Amendment, supported as it is by persons who, like myself, are opposed to the Bill, and also by hon. Members who, like the hon. Member who introduced the Amendment, are in favour of it.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I protest against the idea that the Committee last year considered this question. After all, if these definitions are inspired and come down from on high, we did last year alter definition (c), and now we are told by the hon. Member for St. Pancras that definition (d) is morally inspired. When we got to definition (c), the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) and I retired, satisfied that the Committee and that the Government had dropped the Bill. They
§ have now said that this definition is sacrosanct. As the Home Secretary has ventured to suggest that there might possibly be found another form of words, I want to know whether my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, who represents the opposite school, could not agree to this Amendment, which is precisely what was suggested by Dr. Vemon Hollander, and which might on that account secure respect. The words of my Amendment are "corrective measures applied during their education and training," etc. That gets away from the idea of flogging and imprisonment. The House must recognise that the definition of imbeciles is meant to deal primarily with children. The question of dealing with adults is purely a temporary one. After all, mentally defective persons will be sifted out and prevented from going into the world in their school days, and, therefore, there will be scarcely any mentally defective adults. When we talk of punishment it means punishment in the ordinary elementary schools; it does not mean punishment by imprisonment or anything of that sort, it means punishment in the ordinary years of school. You want a very different definition when you are going to deal with children, and one suitable to children during school years. That was the suggestion of Dr. Vernon Hollander, and that it what I have adopted in the Amendment which stands on the Paper in my name, for the application of corrective measures during school years. I do not know whether it is possible for the Home Secretary to accept the Amendment, but I do hope he will not regard every Amendment from this quarter as one to be objected to at once.
§ Question put, "That the words 'on which punishment,' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes. 249; Noes, 37.141
|Division No. 210.]||AYES||[8.34 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Burn, Colonel C. R.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Adamson, William||Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Butcher, John George|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Bethell, Sir J. H.||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bird, Alfred||Cassel, Felix|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Boland, John Pius||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Arnold, Sydney||Bowerman, Charles W.||Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Clancy, John Joseph|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Boyton, James||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Brace, William||Clough, William|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Clynes, John R.|
|Barnes, George N.||Bridgeman, William Clive||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Barnston, Harry||Brunner, John F. L.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Bryce, J. Annan||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Barton, William||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Crumley, Patrick|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Burke, E. Haviland-||Cullinan, John|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Jones, William S. Glyn-(Stepney)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Delany, William||Joyce, Michael||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Keating, Matthew||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kelly, Edward||Radford, G. H.|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Dillon, John||Kerry, Earl of||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Kilbride, Denis||Reddy, Michael|
|Doris, William||King, Joseph||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Duffy, William J.||Lardner, James C. R.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Leach, Charles||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lewisham, Viscount||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lundon, Thomas||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lynch, A. A.||Robinson, Sidney|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Rowlands, James|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||McGhee, Richard||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macpherson, James Ian||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sheehy, David|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Ginnell, Laurence||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Glanville, H. J.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Meagher, Michael||Stewart, Gershom|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Gulland, John William||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Millar, James Duncan||Swift, Rigby|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Molloy, Michael||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hackett, John||Molteno, Percy Alport||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Mooney, John J.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Morgan, George Hay||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hancock, John George||Morison, Hector||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thomas, J. H.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Muldoon, John||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Down, North)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Munro, Robert||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wardle, George J.|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Nolan, Joseph||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Norton, Captain Cecil William||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Nuttall, Harry||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Doherty, Philip||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Hills, John Waller||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull. W.)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Malley, William||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Hodge, John||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Shee, James John||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Winfrey, Richard|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Parry, Thomas H.||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. W. Jones and Mr. Webb.|
|John, Edward Thomas||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Baker, Sir Randall L. (Dorset, N.)||Hinds, John||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hogge, James Myles||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Horner, Andrew Long||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Neilson, Francis||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Fell, Arthur||O'Grady, James||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Pringle, William M. R.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Wedgwood and Mr. Martin.|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I beg to move, in paragraph (d), after the word "has," to insert the word "had" ["little or no deterrent effect"].
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
The hon. Member made a, speech on that Amendment just now, but I understood that the Division which has been taken covered that. The hon. Member spoke in support of the alternative he had on the Paper to the Amendment then before the House. The House came to the decision that the words of the Bill so far should stand part.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
The object of this Amendment is to leave the question, whether the punishment has failed in operating as a deterrent, not as a matter of opinion, but as a matter of fact. It is not necessary for me to make any observations upon it, as I understand that the Home Secretary is inclined to favourably consider the Amendment.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I beg to second the Amendment. It makes the Clause much clearer and the definitions much more harmless.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add as a new paragraph,(e) Mentally infirm persons, that is to say, persons who through mental infirmity arising from age or the decay of their faculties are incapable of managing themselves or their affairs.A separate paragraph with regard to mentally infirm persons, such as I am now proposing, was contained in the Bill of last year, and we have never yet been told why the Home Secretary has deemed it necessary to omit such a paragraph from the Bill this year. The Bill as it stands only applies to mentally defective persons who have been mentally defective from birth or from early age. A person cannot be dealt with under any of these para- 144 graphs unless he was defective from birth or from an early age; therefore no person can be dealt with who becomes mentally deficient in later years. Everyone acquainted with local government knows perfectly well that a very large number of the aged persons in our workhouses and lunatic asylums, are only mentally defective through senile decay. Before the Royal Commission it was stated by the chairman of the Asylums Committee of the London County Council:—Patients were sent to the asylums of the county council who were senile and not strictly lunatic... The old senile dements are sent to the county asylums practically because someone wants 10 get rid of them. … They represent very nearly one-third of those we receive. We have hundreds and hundreds now that we could dispose of if we had asylums similar to the imbecile asylums belonging to the Metropolitan Asylums Board. It is a serious matter affecting the relatives … to brand as a lunatic a man or woman whose faculties are simply decayed by the advance of years.An interesting Return was issued a short time ago by the Local Government Board showing the number of mentally defective persons in workhouses in England and Wales. It showed that out of 29,484 adults who were mentally defective, 10,000, or more than one-third, were persons of sixty years and upwards. In this Return the mentally defective in workhouses are classified according to the five classes contained in the Mental Deficiency Bill of last year, the fifth class consisting of mentally infirm persons who would have come under such a definition as I am now proposing. Under that heading 32 per cent, of all the mental deficients in our workhouses would have come. That definition has been omitted, and we have been given no reason whatever why the right hon. Gentleman has not included it in his Bill this year. Everyone will agree that persons, whose only crime is that they are mentally defective, ought not to be in workhouses or lunatic asylums. They ought to be placed in homes or institutions provided for mentally defectives under the Bill we are now discussing. Early last year the Home Secretary said:Mentally defectives ought nut in lie treated in the workhouses, as their case is one in which workhouse treatment is of no value. They ought to be treated in a suitable home which would, if not cure them, at any rate give them a prospect of leading a fairly tolerable life.It is perfectly clear that to keep aged people suffering from senile decay in a lunatic asylum is a great waste of money. They do not require the very expensive medical treatment which lunatice receive in our modern lunatic asylums. They will be much better off and much economically treated in homes for mental defectives. 145 Unless this definition is inserted, these unfortunate people cannot be dealt with.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
With much of the hon. Member's speech we agree. At the same time he will remember, as he served on the Committee, that in view of the financial provisions of this Bill it is really impossible to include all those we wish to include. The Bill is limited to congenital cases—the cases of those who from birth or early age have displayed these particular defects. The substance of the answer to the Amendment is that the money at our disposal at present is not sufficient to meet all the cases we would wish to meet. I say that quite frankly to the House. That being so, we have, as it were, to choose the most urgent cases. In our view, the cases included in the Bill are more urgent than the cases the hon. Member wishes to include. That is a frank and candid admission, and that really represents the real substance of the situation.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
These people are already provided for in lunatic asylums, and there would be no additional cost.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
That is just so. If the senile dements develop such a state of abnormality of mind that they are lunatics, they are already provided for under the present law, but we do not think they ought to come definitely as a new class in addition to (a), (b), (c), and (d) under this Clause. At any rate, I think the hon. Member will agree with me that once we substantiate that, we have to choose this is really the class that ought, as it were, first to be excepted from the provisions of this Bill. If it was a very bad case, of course, he would be certified as a lunatic. If he is not so certified, a man in this condition would less require special treatment than the other classes included in the Bill. To include this class would entail very heavy additional expenditure, and if you entailed heavy expenditure certain classes would be excluded from the Bill which in our opinion ought to be included, rather than the class to which the hon. Member refers. I agree with the substance of his remarks. When he remembers the financial limitations which have been put upon us, I hope, although we all agree there is merit in the Amendment, he will not press it.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The hon. Member was on the Committee the second time, and the Bill was very much improved on the second occasion.
§ Mr. J. WARD
I am very pleased to think the Under-Secretary has decided not to accept this Amendment. I have supported the Bill, so far as I have given support to it, on the supposition that it is really to deal with those who may be offensive to society. Surely these poor old people who would be included in the Amendment could not possibly come under that category. Therefore it would be most offensive to include them in a Bill of this description.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I was pleased to hear that the Government were not going to accept the Amendment, sorry though I am to have to oppose my hon. Friend, who is generally a supporter of individual liberty, though on this occasion he has fallen away. At the same time I must really protest against the reason given by the Government for their rejection of the Amendment. They certainly would not find any approval from the hon. Member (Mr. John Ward) any more than they would from me. What the Under-Secretary has said is that the Government would like to lock all these people up, but they have not got money enough to do it. Can one really imagine a less conclusive defence? They had it in the last Bill. The hon. Gentleman says this is an improvement on the last Bill, but though it is an improvement he says he should like to have this in which is not an improvement, if he had money enough to put it in. Is that logical or practical? If he is going to draw the line as to money is there not a very much simpler line? If he is frightened of locking up these poor people, whom I have no desire to lock up, would it not be much simpler to make a difference between compulsory and voluntary? We know that there is only £300,000 under the Bill. That will not be enough to deal with voluntary cases. Surely he might save all this difficulty and trouble by drawing the line at voluntary cases—people who are willing to go to asylums and those excellent institutions which at present deal with idiots and the feeble-minded! But to suggest that the limit of age is the one which is to be taken, simply because of money, is only worthy of some of his supporters who are anxious to 147 lock up so many people under the Bill. I certainly rather agree with the hon. Member (Mr. John Ward) than with the Government. Still, if you accepted this Amendment, you would be on exceedingly dangerous ground and that is why we are opposing it. You would be locking up people at forty, fifty, or sixty, who had been sane until then. When they got a little bit feeble they would be locked up right and left on account of family disputes and people wanting to get hold of their money. That is where the Clause is a bad one which should be rejected, and that is the real danger. I am glad the Government have not money enough to do it, because it would be an absolutely wrong thing to do. I shall have to strain my conscience to the extent of voting with the Under-Secretary against my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be under the impression that I propose by this Amendment to lock up poor unfortunate old people who are at liberty at present. Nothing is further from my mind. All I propose is that old people who are now locked up in asylums and workhouses should be transferred to proper homes and institutions.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
There is no getting away from the fact that there are thousands of old people in the workhouses who cannot get away, and they cannot get away from the lunatic asylums. Every asylum authority in the country will testify that a very large number of old people are there who ought not to be there. This provision was in the Bill last year, when exactly the same amount of money was provided as is provided this year. For the hon. Gentleman to say he will not accept the Amendment this year because he has not enough money is absolutely absurd. If my hon. and learned Friend is against the Amendment I shall not proceed to a Division.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause to add the follow-; ing new paragraph,(e) sexually feeble-minded persons, that is to say, female persons who do not belong to any of the above-mentioned classes of mentally defective persons, but 148 who are feeble-minded and on account of their mental condition fail to exercise due self-control or due self-protection with respect to sexual immorality.The object of this definition is to bring the benefits of the Bill to certain classes of people who are a constant source of trouble to Social Workers and Poor Law guardians, persons who are feeble-minded, but do not come under the definitions we have already passed. They have no criminal or vicious-propensities which bring them under the operation of the criminal laws, but they are really incapable of properly looking; after their affairs, and particularly are incapable of protecting themselves against sexual indulgence. Many thousands of children are born into the world of parents of this kind, and for their sake as well as for the sake of the mothers these feeble-minded women who are subject to this particular kind of mental and moral defect should be brought within the purview of this Bill. If this Amendment is accepted I have a subsequent Amendment to treat this particular class of moral imbeciles differently from some others, by saying that they shall not be dealt with other than by being sent to an approved home or placed under guardianship. I am not an enemy of liberty, but I am very desirous that this particular class of imbecile should have the benefit of this Bill.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
My hon. Friend has referred to a circumstance which was present to the minds of those who brought in this Bill. He seems to be under the impression that the class to whom he-referred are excluded from the provisions of the Bill. He will find if he will look at the Bill that the class of women could be brought under paragraph (c). So far as the term "feeble-minded" is concerned, they are already included in the Bill. What does the hon. Member want? He says there is a class who fail to exercise due self control. I really could not accept the Amendment. I think his proposal, if carried out, would be exceedingly harsh. The Amendment gives a very vague classification. Really the point is that the Bill is intended to make it possible for any honest man, any honest doctor, to say whether a certain person does or does not come within the provisions of the Bill. If a woman is a feeble-minded person, she comes within the provisions of the Bill, 149 whether she has tendencies to sexual immorality or not, and the hon. Member wishes to add that she cannot exercise due self-control or due self-protection. I really think that is putting too severe a strain on the administrators of the Act. I hope very much for these reasons that no further addition of this kind will be made to the Bill.
§ Sir. F. BANBURY
I am afraid I do not agree with the Under-Secretary for the Home Department in his reason for objecting to the Amendment, although I am opposed to it. He says that all this sort of people will be dealt with under the definition we have already passed. That may or may not be so.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is my point. I do not know who is really feeble-minded or who is not. I do not know who is to decide that question. Very likely two doctors would agree that some person is feeble-minded, although others held a contrary view. While I do not agree that the reasons advanced by the Under-Secretary are good reasons, I am going to support him if the Amendment goes to a Division. I do not know whether the hon. Member who moved the Amendment is an advocate of female suffrage or not.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am surprised that lie proposed the Amendment. One of the reasons why I am going to vote against him is that I think it would not be fair to women that this particular Amendment should be put in the Bill. The Amendment says that persons shall be deemed to be defectives who aresexually feeble-minded persons, that is to say, female persons who do not belong to any of the above-mentioned classes of mentally defective persons, but who are feeble-minded and on account of their mental condition fail to exercise due self-control or due self-protection with respect, to sexual immorality.Why not include men? Why should women only be brought under this Section? I am serious upon this point, because I have always said there was no necessity whatever for female suffrage. I have always said that we are perfectly capable of looking after the interests of 150 women, but if we are to have such legislation as this, one law for men and another law for women who are, incapable of due self-control or self-protection with respect to sexual immorality, my objection to female suffrage would vanish. Everyone knows perfectly well that if this Amendment is correct, it applies as much to men as to women, and I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman opposite should have brought it forward, to deal only with the class he describes as female persons. Of course, this really shows what absurdities we are attempting to legislate upon. We are really trying to make out that wherever there is a particular thing we disapprove of, the person, male or female, who does that particular thing is mentally defective, and should, therefore, be locked up on the ipse dixit of two doctors, and confined for five years in a place of detention. I am sorry to differ from the hon. Gentleman, but I am sure he will accept my criticisms in the spirit in which they are offered. I trust the House of Commons will not accept this Amendment, and that even at this late hour the Government may possibly be induced to see that this Bill cannot possibly be carried out without inflicting great hardship and injustice upon a large portion of the community.
§ Mr. J. WARD
The reason why I object to this Amendment is that it would be impossible for anyone to decide when a person came within its terms, unless, perhaps, the President of the Divorce Court, or the King's Proctor. I feel certain that while there is a certain degraded class on the streets who want protection, these women are not exclusively the class who would come within the terms of the Amendment. I venture to say that if these-words were put in, although the paragraph would be applied to poor people, you could not apply it to rich people, however immoral they might be. It would be utterly impossible to do that.
§ Mr. J. WARD
It would be utterly impossible to apply any portion of this Bill from beginning to end to wealthy people.
§ Mr. J. WARD
It is largely for people in poor circumstances that you are passing it. I am morally certain that those who have framed this Amendment mean it to 151 apply only to one rank of society—the poorer people. They have no intention whatever of applying such a strict code as this to those in the higher grades of society. It is more aimed at a class than at an offence, and I object to it entirely. By no stretch of imagination could it apply to the people who happen to move in good society, whose records we hear of from time to time in the Divorce Courts, but to their less fortunate fellow citizens in the poorer ranks of society it may apply very effectively and very harshly. It establishes one code of morals for one section and another code for another section of the community, and it is because of this difference in its application according to wealth and social status that I object to this Amendment from beginning to end.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I am exceedingly glad that a Member from the Labour Benches has at last spoken against the ill which threatens to lock up poor people.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
I am not referring to the hon. and learned Member in particular, but I have noticed that for the last hour nearly every speaker on the Amendments has referred, more or less, to the Bill as a whole. It is very important at this stage that we should deal with the Amendments before the House, and not with the Bill as a whole.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I am very glad that a. Member from the Labour Benches has spoken against the Clause which is to lock up poor people. I am opposing this Amendment because it discloses no necessity to lock up this particular class of persons. I sympathise greatly with the Mover of the Amendment. It seems to be the logical outcome of certain portions of the Bill. The Under-Secretary, in speaking against this Amendment, referred to his remarks on the last Amendment and said that the same reasons applied to this. As far as I understand his remarks on the last Amendment were that there was not sufficient money available to deal with the different things that they would wish to deal with, so that if he had money at his disposal he would, I understand, accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
That is not the case. There are other reasons also, but even if this were an Amendment which we could accept on other grounds it would be impossible on account of the financial restriction.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Why the hon. Member who moved this should have restricted it to females I do not know. There is nothing in his speech that would have prevented it applying to men as well as to women. If the Amendment were to be moved in its present form it should be applied to both men and women, and then it would have the merit at all events of being logical and possibly in accordance with the rest of the Bill. I know no other part of the Bill which makes a different law for women and for men. Though I oppose the Amendment I am glad the hon. Member has moved it, because it throws a strong light on the lengths to which you may be tempted to go if you continue the class of legislation which we have begun. It is because it will make a further step in that direction that I am prepared to vote against the Amendment. What is proposed is practically imprisonment for life without a proper trial. It is a danger to the personal liberty of people, however much we may not sympathise with them, and it is a dangerous precedent to lock up people, whether male or female, in the manner proposed.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I am very glad that this Amendment has been moved, because it enables the Government to show that they can resist pressure in this direction, and also because it has induced the Undersecretary to the Home Department to explain to the House that the women who are meant to be dealt with under this Amendment will be dealt with under Section (c).
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
That is what I meant to say. This only deals with feebleminded persons. Therefore, we are told by the Under-Secretary that these people should come under Section (c). It is very desirable that the House should understand the people who do come under paragraph (c). In the second place, I am glad that it has been moved, because it makes quite clear what is at the back of the minds of the promoters of this Bill. Just as they want to make people sober and thrifty by Act of Parliament so they want to make them moral by Act of Parliament. Two years ago an Amendment such as this would have been carried. It would have been thought such an admirable thing to 153 make people moral by Act of Parliament. Now an Amendment on these lines would not have met with a seconder if it had not been felt desirable that the subject should be debated. The only thing I regret is that the Amendment should have been moved by the hon. Member for Hagger-ston, who has done magnificent service for freedom in other spheres, and has also worked effectively for women suffrage, and I think it is sad that an Amendment such as this should have been put into his hands—of course he loyally moved it—and that he should be held responsible for it. Last year in the Committee stage a similar Amendment was moved, I think by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire, and was rejected without a Division, as this Amendment will also be rejected without a Division. I think a very healthy spirit is growing up of opposition to ail such interference with the moral conduct of the people of the country. The more you look after them by the State in this way the less chance they have of standing on their own legs, and the more necessary further grandmotherly interference is found to be. I protest against this Amendment. I wish that it could be divided on. At any rate, an Amendment similar to this will not pass into law during the lifetime of this Parliament.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.