Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill in Parliament

This morning, MPs have been debating the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill in the House of Commons.

Under current law, people with mental health problems are prevented from sitting on a jury, being appointed as a company director and MPs who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months are excluded from Parliament.

The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill proposes that the laws affecting company directors and jurors are amended and the MP legislation is repealed. Supporters of the Bill, which includes mental health charity Mind, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Rethink Mental Illness, say that these three areas are discriminatory and outdated, and that with the right support, people with mental health problems can recover and participate fully in society. The Law Society has warned that current legislation in the UK could be in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Tory MP Gavin Barwell is taking the Bill through the commons. The Minister said: “My Bill’s purpose is very simple: to tackle the last legal form of discrimination in our society. To our shame the law of the land still discriminates against those with a mental health condition. An MP or a company director can be removed from their job because of mental ill health even if they go on to make a full recovery.”

Today is the Bill’s second reading in Parliament. After three readings and close scrutiny by a committee in both Houses of Parliament, it can be turned into Law. Find out more about how a Bill is passed here.

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