Friday, 14 September 2012

Cambridge MP Backs Move To Give Greater Protection To Mentally Ill People

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert was in Westminster today (Friday, September 14) to back a vital piece of legislation giving people with mental health problems greater protection against discrimination.

The Mental Health Discrimination Bill, which received a unanimous Second Reading in the House of Commons, amends three pieces of outdated legislation.

A Private Member’s Bill, It is supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Law Society. It comes after the launch of a cross-government strategy to help people suffering from mental health problems at a local level.

Julian said: “We are all fully aware of the problems faced by people who have suffered mental ill health especially in finding or returning to work. We need to reduce the stigma of mental illness, and end discrimination against people who are or have been mentally ill.

However, the law as it currently stands bans people from being a company director, a juror or an MP just on the basis of their mental health. It is time to end this discrimination being written into the law.

“If this Bill passes, for example, people will no longer be able to be exempted from jury service on the basis of mental ill health or be discharged as the director of a company. This will bring these laws into the 21st Century and send a clear message that stigmatizing a person because they have suffered a mental health condition is totally wrong.

“One in four of us will suffer a mental health problem in our lifetimes but that doesn’t mean we should be prevented from continuing in our jobs or playing a useful part in society.”

The Bill was introduced by Gavin Barwell MP. It would:

  •  repeal section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983 under which a Member of Parliament, of the Scottish Parliament, of the Welsh Assembly or of the Northern Ireland Assembly automatically loses their seat if they are detained under the Act for more than six months. There is no equivalent provision to remove an MP if they suffer a physical illness that affects their ability to perform their role;
  • amend the Juries Act 1974 to significantly reduce and better define who is ineligible for jury service.
  • amend the Companies (Model Articles) Regulations 2008 so that someone no longer ceases to be a director of a public or private company purely because of their mental health.