§ The Board of Control hereinafter constituted shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be charged with the general superintendence of matters relating to the supervision, protection, and control of defectives:
§ Provided that, save as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, nothing in this Act shall affect any power exercise-able with respect to lunatics by the Lord Chancellor or the Commissioners in Lunacy, or the Judge or Masters in Lunacy, or by any visitors, court, local authority or other persons, whether under the Lunacy Acts, 1890 to 1911, or otherwise.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I beg to move, to leave out the Clause.
This is the only Amendment which I have put on the Paper. I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to make some announcement which will remove any grounds of objection to this Clause. I recognise fully that most points that were put before the Government last year have been met with a reasonable spirit, and consequently I have not seen fit to resume my opposition. My view with regard to the treatment of the suffering poor is that instead of setting up a new authority very largely composed of the old Lunacy Board there ought to be young men, not identified with past policy, to undertake what is a new experiment in the development of State policy. My view is expressed almost word for word by the representative managers of the London County Council elementary schools committee in the following pronouncement:—That they could not accede to the request to urge the Government to pass the Bill without amendment, and while they feel great satisfaction that the Government have introduced a measure dealing with the mentally deficient, they cannot support the Bill as introduced into the House of Commons without amendment on the ground, among others, that a new and expensive authority is proposed instead of giving increased powers to existing authorities.422 That would be my own view in a concise form. It has not found favour, and it only remains for me to ask how far the Home Secretary can see his way within the limits of the machinery upon which he has determined to answer some of the criticisms which I have to offer. I therefore ask the Home Secretary to be good enough to announce to the House what salary he proposes to fix for the new Commissioners.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
On a point of Order. May I ask whether the hon. Member is moving the Amendment which stands on the Paper, or whether he is moving to leave out Clause 21?
§ Mr. BOOTH
Clause 21 could not possibly receive consideration unless Clause 20 were in the Bill, and as this Clause sets up the Board of Control I think it is a convenient point at which we might ask for a statement. I should think the proper remuneration for the Members of this new Board should have been £1,000. I think that is sufficient instead of £l,500. In addition to the question of salary, I hope the Home Secretary will tell us how many additional Commissioners he will appoint, and how many will be women. Originally there was only provision for one woman, and I think Members on both sides would desire that there should be a paid woman Commissioner, and I would like to know whether the woman would be only an unpaid Commissioner. If the right hon. Gentleman can see his way to meet these criticisms, and if I get any reasonable concession I will withdraw my opposition.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I really am obliged to my hon. Friends for giving me a formal opportunity of stating fully to the House what it is I propose to ask the Treasury to sanction with regard to the appointment of the paid Commissioners under this Bill. There is power taken under the ensuing Clause 21 to appoint twelve paid Commissioners and three unpaid Commissioners. I propose only to ask for at the 423 present time, and by the present time I mean such time as I shall be responsible for my present office, the appointment of eleven out of the twelve paid Commissioners. That will suffice for the immediate work for some years to come. Of those eleven one will be a woman, and eight more of the eleven will be existing Lunacy Commissioners, and, as the House knows, four of them must be by Statute doctors, and four others must be practising barristers or solicitors of at least five years' standing. There remain over and above the existing Lunacy Commissioners and the one "woman two other appointments to make, one of whom, whether of the new or of the existing Lunacy Commissioners, will be Chairman, whose salary is not defined in the Bill, but it is my intention to ask the Treasury to sanction a salary of £1,800 per year to the Chairman. With regard to the remaining paid Commissioners, I propose to ask the Treasury to sanction not more than £1,200 a year as the commencing salary, with an increment as time goes on. Under the Bill, under no circumstances will the salary of the Commissioners exceed £l,500 a year. I hope that with that statement my hon. Friend will be satisfied. If there are any other points which are not clear, I will deal with them on succeeding Clauses.
§ Mr. J. WARD
I think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman will make some Members open their eyes. After the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, in which he spoke of the host of paid locusts which the Government have brought into existence since they came into office, how they could not bring in a Bill dealing even with the most trifling subject without having a gang of hangers-on with huge salaries, and how almost every proposal they brought before the House was for the purpose of supplying soft jobs to someone or other. I should think, if there is any honour in the Opposition, they will fight this part of the Bill to the death. So far as I am concerned, this portion of the business must be seriously scrutinised before it is allowed to pass. Why are there to be such extraordinary salaries of £l,200, rising to £1,500, for these Commissioners? Why are nearly all the Commissioners to be doctors or lawyers? What is there special about doctors and lawyers? I am speaking now about management, not certification.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The eight Lunacy Commissioners, as they now exist, are, as to four, lawyers, and as to four, doctors. That is under the existing Lunacy law, and their existing salary is £1,500 a year. I do not appoint them.
§ Mr. J. WARD
I could understand it if the right hon. Gentleman had said that these gentlemen should be the Board for the future. But he is adding to their number and giving soft jobs to four or five others, who also, I suppose, will be doctors and lawyers. It is evidently a sort of understood business that nobody but doctors and lawyers understand lunatics and mental deficiency. I dare say there is a reason why they should be the only people who understand these matters and should be certain of getting these jobs. We have had speeches tonight indicating a close connection with the subject under discussion. There ought to be some sort of honour in the criticisms of the Opposition in relation to this continuous creation of jobs. I do not deny that in most of the things they have hitherto done I entirely agree with the Government. For instance, in relation to old age pensions, everyone knows that there must be somebody to inquire into the cases. Other matters that we have decided upon there must be officials to carry them out. But here is a subject of governmental and municipal work that has had to be carried for years. Hitherto eight Commissioners have been sufficient. I did not understand what the right hon. Gentleman said their salaries were—
§ Mr. J. WARD
So far as their salaries are concerned, they are not increased; only the numbers are to be increased?
§ Mr. McKENNA assented.
§ Mr. J. WARD
I understood, too, that the salaries are not fixed at the full figures, but rise by increments to the £l,500, the present maximum. Still, some member of the Government should give a reason why the increase of the number of these Commissioners should be made. Why cannot the Board of Control he these eight?
§ Mr. J. WARD
Criticisms are certainly being made by Members of the Opposition. I wish I had brought with me a 425 speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in which he said that the Government could not propose a single measure dealing with anything unless there was a horde of paid officials. The country, he said, was being overrun with a horde of paid officials. The right hon. Gentleman described them as a crowd of locusts. We have then the same thing again to-night. Most certainly I agree with the principles of the Bill, and that we must do something to control the thing, and to establish some kind of national organisation for dealing with these unfortunate people, but there should be some justification for increasing officials with huge salaries.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I entirely concur with the ramarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I protest against the continuous increase of paid officials under this Government, and I shall certainly vote against the proposal. I have on more occasions than one protested against this particular Clause. I should like to hear whether the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept an Amendment that I have on the Paper. It proposes that the number of paid Commissioners should be eleven, not twelve. Instead of appointing four new paid Commissioners you only appoint three. That would, I think, really carry out the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Might I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should defer his remarks till he moves his Amendment.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I understand we are discussing the whole question of the Board of Control. I have already deferred my remarks on several occasions, only later to find, to my great regret, that the right hon. Gentleman moved the Closure.
§ Mr. McKENNA dissented.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
Unless you, Mr. Speaker, call me to order, I shall certainly continue and finish my remarks.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GOLDSMITH
I will not. If I am allowed to make my remarks on this Amendment I certainly have no intention of repeating them on a subsequent Amendment. By appointing three instead of four paid Commissioners, we really are carrying out the 426 intentions of the right hon. Gentleman, who has told us that three Commissioners are sufficient at the present time. If more Commissioners are required it is perfectly easy to appoint them; it was done only two years ago in the case of the Lunacy Commissioners. There were six Lunacy Commissioners up to that date, and they were increased to eight. If that could be done in the case of the Lunacy Commissioners I see no reason why in a few years hence it could not be done in the case of the Commissioners under this Bill. It will not be necessary for a long time, in my opinion, to appoint a fourth Commissioner. The right hon. Gentleman told us the other day that in the early days the work of organisation will be extremely heavy; that is to say, it will be heavy to start with, and if it is necessary at any moment to have a fourth Commissioner, surely, one would think it would be when the work is extremely heavy. Therefore, there would be more reason for appointing a fourth Commissioner now than at a later period. I have another objection to this Clause It is proposed to appoint four Medical Commissioners only under this Clause. The right hon. Gentleman told us there were to be four Medical Commissioners and four legal Commissioners; he does not propose to increase the number of Medical Commissioners. The questions these Commissioners will have to decide will, to a very large extent, be medical questions. Whether a man is defective, whether a man belongs to the idiot or the imbecile, or morally defective class, is purely a medical question and cannot be decided by any one else but a medical man. The right hon. Gentleman told us the present Lunacy Commissioners had their hands full and therefore he wanted three new Commissioners. If that is the case the proportion of Medical Commissioners under this Bill ought to be the same as under the Lunacy Act. I know there are Members like the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, who have the question of liberty of the subject on the brain, who very strongly object to the appointment of new Commissioners, but I can assure him that the pressure of these medical Commissioners will be the greatest safeguard and protection for the liberty of the subject. There is one other point with regard to retaining the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor. Under this Bill it is proposed that Medical Commissioners are to be appointed by the 427 Lord Chancellor, and the other Commissioners are to be appointed by the Home Secretary. In the Committee upstairs we did our best to remove that dual control. We wanted one Minister to be responsible fur the appointment and work of those Commissioners, and we wanted that Minister to be responsible to the House of Commons. I think that is of the utmost importance. Both the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary when it suits them, quote the Report of the Royal Commission. But the Royal Commission recommended that the Commissioners for Mental Deficiency should be appointed not by the Lord Chancellor but by the Home Secretary and the Minister responsible to this House, and they said:—The Secretary of State for the Home Department is in our view under the Act of l890, placed in n position of final responsibility. We conclude, therefore, that he rather than the Lord Chancellor should appoint the members of the Board.I hope we shall hear from the right hon. Gentleman in the first place that he is willing to reduce the number of paid Commissioners to eleven, and in the second place that he is prepared to do away with this quite unnecessary power given to the Lord Chancellor.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.