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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Goverment supports Bill to challenge discriminatory mental health law

Embargoed until 25 November 2011

The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill received its second reading today in the House of Lords today (Friday 25 November) and now goes to committee stage.

Responding to the debate on behalf of the government, Lord Wallace of Saltaire revealed that the government fully supports the bill and is committed to ensuring it becomes law even if there is not sufficient time in this Parliamentary session.

Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "We are delighted that this Bill has received such strong government support today. The College has worked closely with Lord Stevenson on this Bill and we are proud to be involved. The Government has already voiced its commitment to removing the stigma associated with mental health problems and this Bill goes some way to rectify this. The fact that you can be turned down for jury service, or be removed from your job as an MP, school governor or company director because of mental health problems, is discriminatory and outdated."

The Bill aims to:

  • Repeal section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983, under which a Member of the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland Assembly automatically loses their seat if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months;
  • Amend the Juries Act 1974 to overturn the blanket ban on “mentally disordered persons” undertaking jury service; 
  • Amend the Companies (Model Articles) Regulations 2008 which states that a person might cease to be a director of a public or private company “by reason of their mental health”;
  • Amend the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007 so that individuals detained under the Mental Health Act are no longer prevented being school governors.

Lord Dennis Stevenson and Charles Walker MP, supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mind, and Rethink Mental Illness, have worked on the Bill.

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896


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