A history of mental health reform

1998-1999: Expert Committee Report

The Government commissioned an Expert Committee, chaired by Prof. Genevra Richardson, to consider the possibilities for reform. The Committee reported in November 1999. The report recommended a principles-based Act similar to the Mental Health Act which was later passed in Scotland. The review stated that new legislation should be based on fundamental principles of non-discrimination and patient autonomy.

Read the report

November 1999: Green Paper

The Government produced a Green Paper, entitled Reform of the Mental Health Act 1983. The consultation received over 1000 responses. A summary of the responses was made public in November 2000.

December 2000: White Paper

The Government produced a White Paper, entitled Reforming the Mental Health Act.

June 2002: Draft Mental Health Bill

The first Draft Mental Health Bill was published for consultation. The Government received over 1700 formal responses and over 200 official letters during the consultation period.

Read the 2002 Draft Mental Health Bill

June 2003-May 2004: Stakeholder meetings

As a result of the strength of opposition to the draft proposals, the Government organised a number of meetings with stakeholders on a range of issues, to road test the provisions of the Bill.

September 2004: 2nd Draft Mental Health Bill

A second draft of the Mental Health Bill was published.

Read the 2004 Draft Mental Health Bill

November 2004-March 2005: Parliamentary Scrutiny

The 2004 draft Bill was subject to scrutiny by a Joint Committee of Parliament. The Committee's members included MPs and Lords from all of the major parties represented in Parliament. Its consultation received a large number of responses from all stakeholder groups. The Committee reported in March 2005 and strongly condemned the Government plans as "fundamentally flawed".

Read the Scrutiny Committee's report

May 2005: Queen's speech

Following the general election, the Queen's speech announced that the Mental Health Bill would be published in this Parliamentary session, i.e. during the period May 2005-November 2006.

July 2005: Government Response

The Government published its response to the Joint Scrutiny Committee's report, which rejected many of the Committee’s key recommendations.

Read the Government Response

November 2005: Consultation on Race Equality

The Government is conducting a Race Equality Impact Assessment on the Bill. In November a public consultation was held as part of this process.

Read the REIA consultation documents

23 March 2006: Government abandons the Mental Health Bill

The Government announced that its plans for a new Mental Health Bill would be abandoned in favour of amendments to the 1983 Mental Health Act, due to concerns over the length and complexity of the new Bill and pressures on Parliamentary time.

Read more about the Government's new plans

17 November 2006: Mental Health Bill published

The Department of Health published the Bill.

Read the Alliance press release here.

For the latest news on the Bill's progress, see What's New.