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Miss Mary Betteridge

Oral Answers to Questions — Hospitals – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th April 1957.

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Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford 12:00 am, 15th April 1957

asked the Minister of Health if the medical superintendent of the St. Margaret's Mental Hospital, Birmingham, has yet approved the application by the honourable Member for Erith and Crayford to visit a patient, Miss Mary Betteridge, as requested by her and her foster parents.

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I do not know, and I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's reply of 18th March.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

Will the hon. Gentleman explain how, week after week, I get fobbed off with the answer to the effect that the final decision rests with the medical superintendent? Does not his Department know the Act of Parliament, and will he not refer to Regulation 48, which says at the end: If the superintendent refuses, prevents or obstructs the admission of any person duly authorised by the Board to visit a patient, he shall for every offence be liable to a fine not exceeding £20. Why does the Minister say that it finally rests with the medical superintendent, when it does not do anything of the sort? Is not this one more example of the conspiracy both here and in Birmingham to prevent me seeing a patient when the foster-parents have asked that I should be allowed to do so?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

If the hon. Gentleman will carry his studies of the Regulations a little further, he will see that Regulation 48 (1) also has a bearing on the matter, and that my right hon. Friend has no power to direct either the medical superintendent or the Board of Control.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Regulation 48 (1) should be mentioned to the House, because it says: The Board— that is, the Board of Control—may at any time grant permission in writing for the admission of any person to visit a patient either on a single occasion or for a limited number of times or generally at all reasonable times and with or without restriction as to the presence of attendants or otherwise. The second point is that it imposes a penalty on the medical superintendent if he prevents that being carried out. Is not this a diabolical trick to prevent that being done?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I do not think that that supplementary question has any bearing on the original Question.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

On a point of order. In view of the highly unsatisfactory answer that has been given week after week, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Motion for the Adjournment, when I hope the Ministry will be ready to apologise.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

asked the Minister of Health under which of the Mental Deficiency Regulations, 1948, it is laid down that the decision as to who can visit a patient apart from the special rights of adult relatives or guardians rests with the medical superintendent.

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

Regulation 47 (1) provides that visits may be paid at such times as the superintendent may direct.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

But will the hon. Gentleman remember that Regulation 48. which follows, has a heading, "Power for Board to Permit Visits "? Since the Board of Control is above the medical superintendent, and since no Parliament will be barmy enough to give this power to one medical superintendent, why does not the Minister apologise for the gross inefficiency of his Department?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I think these Regulations have to be read in conjunction with one another, and I would remind the House and the hon. Member that, as I have said before, my right hon. Friend has no power to direct the Board of Control or the medical superintendent.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Order. The hon. Member has given notice that he will raise the matter on the Adjournment. I think that this is the same matter as he was raising before, and therefore that concludes it.