Oral Answers to Questions — National Health Service – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd February 1981.

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Mr. van Staubenzee:

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has yet determined the size of the grant he proposes to make to MIND for 1981–82.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford

No, Sir. MIND has not yet made an application for a grant for 1981–82.

Photo of Mr William Van Straubenzee Mr William Van Straubenzee , Wokingham

Responding to the appeal of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, when my right hon. Friend comes to settle the grant will he remember the fine work carries out by the local groups of MIND? Will he simply confine his representations to the headquarters of that organisation, and say that next time it makes accusations—and I have been warned that there are more to come—against the medical and nursing staff of a hospital, it should do so quietly and professionally and not by way of a public press conference designed to secure the maximum hurt to people who are at least as much concerned as MIND with the care of the mentally ill?

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford

Last Friday I paid a visit to Rampton hospital, not to Broadmoor in my hon. Friend's constituency. I should like to tell the House, as I said to the press after my visit, that I was enormously impressed by the devoted care given by the staff, particularly the nurses, at that hospital, to some of the unfortunate and difficult people who are entrusted to their charge. Those who make accusations of brutality or other malpractice on the part of staff who have those heavy responsibilities owe it to the staff, the public and the service as a whole to do so in the most careful, responsible and well researched manner. If my hon. Friend's campaign, for such it is, can lead those who are tempted to make these charges to do so in such a way, it will have served a valuable purpose.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

When the Secretary of State considers the application from MIND, will he be quite uninfluenced by the campaign of abuse and denigration, in some cases against individuals who work for MIND, under the protection of parliamentary privilege and not publicly where it could be challenged? Will he be uninfluenced by such a campaign that can bring only disrepute to the House and to our time honoured principle of privilege?

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford

I intend to follow the four considerations that I set out in a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) on 1 July 1980, namely our priority for mental health, our high opinion of MIND's work especially by its branches, our assessment of its income and expenditure and our general policy on grants under section 64.