Alliance welcomes creation of scrutiny committee for next draft Mental Health Bill
14 July 2004
The Mental Health Alliance today welcomed the publication of an order to create a Committee of MPs and peers to scrutinise the forthcoming second draft Mental Health Bill.
The Alliance of over 60 service user groups, charities and professional organisations heralded the creation of the committee as an important opportunity for Parliament to examine the Government’s plans for mental health legislation.
Paul Farmer, chair of the Alliance, said today:
"The Government’s first draft Mental Health Bill was universally condemned for excessive focus on public safety and its extension of compulsory treatment. We strongly hope that the next draft Bill, when it is published, will be significantly improved and a real advance on the current Mental Health Act.
Pre-legislative scrutiny should allow mental health service users, carers, workers and voluntary organisations to have a real say in the creation of a new Mental Health Act. All of our members look forward to working with the committee to put forward recommendations for a Bill fit for the 21st century."
Note to editors
- The Government today published an Order for the establishment of a committee of both Houses of Parliament to examine a new draft Mental Health Bill, to be published later in this session of Parliament.
- Pre-legislative scrutiny has been used on several occasions in the past two years, most notably for the Mental Capacity Bill. It allows a committee of MPs and Peers to take evidence from interested parties inside and outside Parliament on the government's draft plans. The committee recommends changes to government before a Bill is put forward for its normal passage through Parliament.
- The Mental Health Alliance is a coalition of over 60 organisations united in their concern about government plans to reform the Mental Health Act. The Alliance has called for a new Mental Health Act that respects human rights as well as public safety and is workable.
- Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of developments:
- September 1998 - Expert committee appointed to review the current Mental Health Act 1983.
- July 1999 - expert committee sends its report to ministers.
- December 2000 - publication of the white paper "Reforming the Mental Health Act".
- June 2002 - consultation announced on a Draft Mental Health Bill.
- September 2002 - consultation closes. The results of the consultation have still not been published.
- November 2003 - Health Secretary John Reid announces that a revised draft Bill will undergo pre-legislative scrutiny "as soon as possible."