Backbench opposition to the mental health bill could force a Commons defeat for the government, it has emerged.
Seventy seven MPs, including 36 Labour backbenchers, have signed an early day motion condemning the planned bill.
Opposition parties have already criticised the bill and the Labour signatories would be enough to overturn the government’s 65-strong majority if all the signatures were turned into votes.
Campaigners claimed last week the government was unlikely to introduce the bill this session and was instead considering amending the 1983 act.
Ministers are thought to be concerned about getting the bill through parliament, given all the other contentious legislation in the pipeline, and campaigners are now seeking a meeting with Department of Health officials to clarify the position.
Paul Farmer, chair of the Mental Health Alliance, a coalition campaigning against the bill, said: “It’s very encouraging that MPs are signing up to the EDM, we’ve been doing a lot of work with parliamentarians. If the bill did get into parliament then it would be subject to extremely rigorous scrutiny.”