MENTAL DEFICIENCY ACT COMMITTEE

Scope and Content

A statutory committee appointed under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913 (3 & 4 Geo. V c. 28) which required the County Council to ascertain the number of people classed as mental defectives (further classified as idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons and moral imbeciles) and arrange guardianship or provide institutional accommodation. The Committee was composed of the same members (with the addition of two women) as the Visiting Committee of the Littlemore Lunatic Asylum appointed under the Lunacy Acts (1890-1911) which imposed a parallel duty on the Council in relation to people classed as lunatics. The County Medical Officer of Health was appointed as Petitioning Officer responsible for implementing the Act and reporting to the Committee. Initially, institutional accommodation for people classified as mental defectives was provided in some poor law institutions and outside the county. However, the Act also permitted local authorities to co-operate in the provision of institutional accommodation by setting up joint boards and a Provisional Joint Institution Committee (representing the Counties of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire - Berks was also represented but withdrew later - and County Boroughs of Reading and Oxford) was set up in 1926, completing its proposals in 1931. It proposed the purchase of the Wyfold Court Estate at Checkendon (near Henley and Reading) to be converted into a 'colony' for 500 patients. This became known as the Borocourt Institution. The Bucks., Oxon. and Reading Joint Board for the Mentally Defective was appointed in 1931 to administer the Institution. Under the National Health Service Act, 1946 (9 & 10 Geo. VI c. 81) responsibility for the County's mental health institutions was transferred to the Oxford Regional Hospital Board and the Council's remaining responsibilities for mental health were transferred to the Health Committee (see CC1/33).

Related Material

Records of Littlemore Asylum, including the Committee of Visitors (H1); Records of the County Medical Officer of Health (H2); Records of the Bucks., Oxon. and Reading Joint Board for the Mentally Defective; Records of the Oxford Regional Hospital Board (H4)