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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.
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?
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Regulation 48 (1) should be mentioned to the House, because it says:
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?
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.
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?
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.