12 JULY 1957, Page 8

A Spectator's Notebook

THE DEBATE in the Commons on mental health did not carry things much further, except in revealing a remarkable degree of unanimity in the House on the Royal Commis- sion's Report. All that stands in the way of its implementation are administration and finance; and I cannot believe that either of them presents as many difficulties as the Government seems to fear. True, it will not be easy to draw the border-line between central and local govern- ment; but this need not delay most of the Report's recommendations. And the cost of mental health reform is going to be far less than was at one time thought. The success of experiments with small mental hospital units suggests that no grandiose building plan is needed to accommo- date mental health patients in new surroundings; many patients would do better to live in ordinary houses, as like their homes and as unlike institu- tions as possible.