People with learning difficulties could have their civil rights
infringed unless the definition of mental disorder within the draft
Mental Health Bill is narrowed.
Conservative MP Angela Browning warned health minister Rosie
Winterton that the bill’s definition was too broad and risked
covering people with learning difficulties and autism.
Browning told MPs scrutinising the bill that people with learning
difficulties such as HL in the Bournewood case might be defined as
having a mental disorder, making them eligible for lawful
Last October, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that HL, who
has autism, was detained unlawfully at Bournewood Hospital, Surrey,
for five months because he could not discharge himself.
But Winterton said: “It is not our intention to show that people
with learning disabilities would be brought under the Mental Health
Meanwhile, the joint parliamentary committee on human rights has
repeated its calls for the government to amend the Mental Capacity
Bill to accommodate the Bournewood judgement.