§ House in Committee according to Order.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that he had postponed the Committee from last week in order that he might have the opinion of his noble Friend (the Earl of Shaftesbury) upon some Amendments which he proposed to introduce into the Bill. The principal of there was the substitution, for two medical visitors who would give only a portion of their time to their duties, of one medical visitor, who should receive a salary 542 and devote his whole time exclusively to his office. The noble and learned Lord said this would effect a great improvement upon the present arrangement, and he hoped the House of Commons would agree to his receiving a liberal remuneration. He had several other Amendments to propose, and if they were agreed to he would suggest that the Bill should be reprinted and recommitted, in order that their Lordships might see it in its altered shape.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
thanked the noble and learned Lord for introducing the provision he had mentioned, as it was absolutely necessary that the duties of medical visitor should be discharged by an experienced man, whose whole time was at the command of the public. He concurred with the noble and learned Lord in the hope that the House of Commons would act generously in fixing his remuneration, as those duties were not light. He believed that the result of the Bill would be to inaugurate a new era in regard to the treatment of lunatics.
THE MARQUESS OF WESTMEATH
thought that some provision ought to be introduced in the Bill to enable some protection to be thrown round persons who, though not of sound mind, were not in such a dangerous state as to render it necessary to treat them as ordinary lunatics. He referred to the recent case of Lord Kingston, who, he said, had been more or less in the present state for the last twenty years. His mania took the form of giving away large sums as alms in indiscriminate charity, whereby he had destroyed his whole fortune. Had there been any provision of law by which the property of a person afflicted with mania of this kind could have been placed in the hands of trustees, Lord Kingston would now have been with £20,000 a year, instead of appearing before the public as an absolute pauper. Even now he would not have been placed under the protection of the law, if he had not been seen by a policeman, walking into a railway tunnel and brought before a magistrate.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
reminded the noble Marquess that as the law now stood any man of unsound mind, and incapable of managing his own affairs, could be placed under proper restraint.
§ Amendments made; the Report thereof to be reviewed To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at half-past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, Half-past Ten o'clock.