Scrapping mental health bill preferable to multiple amendments

Scrapping the draft mental health bill and starting from scratch
would be “preferable” to piling amendments on the
“contorted and badly written” draft, writes
Sally Gillen in London.

Chief executive of charity Rethink, Cliff Prior, told a
conference organised by Harrogate Management Centre this week that
it would be preferable if the pre-legislative scrutiny committee
set up to look at the redrafted bill decided to “start again,
amend the 1983 Act or look at the Scottish mental health

The Mental Health Alliance, a group of organisations opposed to
the draft bill, had met last week to decided whether to “kill
the bill or amend it”, but had decided it was “the only
game in town”.

But Prior told delegates in London: “There is a real
danger that we could see amendment piled on amendment”.

Earlier, Phil Fennell, professor of mental health law at Cardiff
law school, said a clause within the bill which allowed people to
be treated within the community contained a condition akin to
antisocial behaviour orders.

Under the bill, people with mental health problems can be
treated in a “non-resident setting” if they agree to
conditions including not engaging in “specified
conduct”. Fennell said this amounted to controlling

Carer Victoria Yeates criticised the measure, arguing it would
turn carers into “policing agents” because they would
be expected to report lapses.

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