asked the Minister of Health what action he is taking to provide suitable accommodation and care for the many cases of mentally deficient children who have been recommended for institutional treatment by mental deficiency committees, but who are not receiving it?
I am aware of the existing inadequacy of institutional accommodation for mental defectives, both adults and juveniles, and local authorities are being urged to carry out their statutory duty to provide institutional accommodation.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many hundreds, and possibly thousands, of mentally deficient children who are in lunatic asylums, and very often where they should not be?
Though there is a shortage of accommodation in public mental hospitals, there are relatively few cases of serious overcrowding. The position has already received my attention. Approval has been given to certain proposals for extending mental hospital accommodation, and others are under consideration. It is anticipated that these extensions will largely meet the present shortage; and further alleviation of the position may result from the survey of institutional accommodation which may become available under the Local Government Act.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many mental hospitals in the home counties where the patients are sleeping on the floor, and that certain authorities in the home and other counties are reluctant to develop fresh institutions owing to alleged financial stringency?
As regards the first part of the question, I do not know the particular cases which the hon. Member has in mind. As regards the second part of the question, it is perfectly—
A number of local authorities have been reluctant to undertake expenditure on mental hospitals, but I have recently appointed a committee with a view to reducing the cost of these institutions; local authorities are now being pressed to exercise their duties, and I hope that within a reasonable time there will be adequate accommodation for mental cases.