Section 1.—Origin and Scope of Inquiry.
For a considerable time there has been a growing feeling of anxiety among the public owing to the number of mental defectives becoming a charge upon the State, and also the alarming increase in their numbers through the uncontrolled fecundity of this class. Furthermore, owing to the frequency of sexual offences, many of a most revolting character, there was a strong demand that some action should be taken to prevent further acts of this nature; it being suggested that the law should be altered to make it possible for surgical operations to be performed upon these offenders.
The North Canterbury Hospital Board considered the need for action in this matter so great that they set up a Committee to go into the question and take evidence, which was done, and various recommendations were made to the Government.
A perusal of departmental files reveals that many persons and social bodies have urged upon the Government the desirability of setting up a Committee or Commission of Inquiry to go into this subject.
The Minister of Health duly considered the representations made, and appointed the following Committee to inquire into the question:—
The Hon. W. H. Triggs, M.L.C. (Chairman).
Sir Donald McGavin, Kt., C.M.G., D.S.O., M.D. (Lond.), F.R.C.S. (Eng.).
Sir F. Truby King, Kt., C.M.G., M.B., B.Sc. (Public Health) (Edin.).
J. Sands Elliott, Esq., M.D., Bac. Surg. (Edin.), Chairman of the Council of the British Medical Association (New Zealand Branch).
Miss Ada G. Paterson, M.B., Ch.B. (N.Z.), L.M. (Dublin).
C. E. Matthews, Esq., Under-Secretary for Justice and Controller-General of Prisons, &c.
J. Beck, Esq., Officer in Charge, Special Schools Branch, Education Department.
The function and duty laid upon the Committee was as follows:—
(1.) To inquire and report as to the necessity for special care and treatment of the feeble-minded and subnormal, and to propose the general means by which such care and treatment, if any, should be provided.
(2.) To inquire and report as to the necessity for the treatment of mental degenerates and persons charged with sexual offences, and to recommend forms of treatment for the various types of cases.
The Minister of Health expressed his desire that the Committee should hear such evidence and representations on the above-mentioned matters as might be necessary fully to inform the Committee on the questions referred to it, and further suggested to the Committee that the various organizations and persons likely to be interested should be notified that the Committee would, at a certain place and date, hear any evidence they might desire to tender.
The following places were visited and inspected by the Committee: The Myers Special School, Auckland; the Waikeria Prison Reformatory; the Tokanui Mental Hospital, Waikeria; the New Plymouth Prison; the Boys' Training-farm, Weraroa; the Point Halswell Reformatory for Women, Wellington; the Special School for Girls, Richmond, Nelson; the Mental Hospital, Nelson; the Mental Hospital, Stoke, Nelson; the Te Oranga Home, Burwood, Christchurch; the Paparua Prison, Templeton; the Special School for Boys, Otekaike; the Caversham Industrial Home for Girls, Dunedin; the Borstal Institution, Invercargill....