Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced that the
Government will repeal Section 141 of the Mental Health Act - a law
which forces an MP to stand down from their seat if they are
sectioned for more than six months.
Commenting on the decision, Professor Dinesh Bhugra, President
of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "We are
absolutely delighted that the Government has decided to scrap this
out-dated and discriminatory law. The College, together with other
mental health charities, has campaigned long and hard for change.
Today’s decision will ensure that there is no place for
discrimination on the grounds of mental ill-health in Parliament,
and demonstrate that someone with a mental health problem can
recover and lead an active role in political life."
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has lobbied for a repeal of
the law for several years. Currently, under Section 141 of the
Mental Health Act, an MP automatically loses their seat in
Parliament if detained under the Act for a period of six months or
more. In contrast, there are no provisions to remove MPs suffering
from physical illnesses which stop them from carrying out their
duties and responsibilities for the same length of time.
In July 2008 a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
Mental Health, supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and
other mental health organisations, showed that one in five MPs have
some personal experience of a mental health problem. But one in 3
said work-based stigma and the expectation of a hostile reaction
from the media and public prevented them from being open about
mental health issues. The report,
Mental Health in Parliament, called for the removal of
Section 141 - a change which was backed by the majority of MPs
Find out more about the College's work on this issue
For further information, please
McLoughlin or Deborah Hart in the
Telephone: 0203 701 2544 or 0203 701 2538