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Session 2003-04, 16 September 2004

Joint Committee seeks evidence on draft Mental Health Bill

Joint Committee seeks evidence on draft Mental Health Bill

The two Houses of Parliament have established a Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill which was published by the Government on 8 September 2004.

The Committee will consider the draft bill and report on it to both Houses by 31 March 2005.

The Committee is currently inviting organisations and individuals to submit written evidence by Monday 1 November 2004 (see attached Call for Evidence for further details). The Committee plans to hold oral evidence sessions from mid October.


Mrs Liz Blackman, MP Erewash Labour
Mrs Angela Browning, MP Tiverton and Honiton Conservative
Mr David Hinchliffe, MP Wakefield Labour
Mr George Howarth, MP Knowsley North & Sefton East Labour
Tim Loughton, MP East Worthing & Shoreham Conservative
Mr Paul Marsden, MP Shrewsbury & Atcham Liberal Democrats
Laura Moffatt, MP Crawley Labour
Ms Meg Munn, MP Sheffield Heeley Labour
Dr Doug Naysmith, MP Bristol North West Labour
Mr Gwyn Prosser, MP Dover Labour
Dr Howard Stoate, MP Dartford Labour
Hywel Williams, MP Caernarfon Plaid Cymru

Baroness Barker Liberal Democrats
Lord Carlile of Berriew (Chairman) Liberal Democrats
Lord Carter Labour
Baroness Cumberlege Conservative
Baroness Eccles of Moulton Conservative
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Cross Bench
Baroness Flather Conservative
Lord Mayhew of Twysden Conservative
Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Labour
Baroness Pitkeathley Labour
Lord Rix Cross Bench
Lord Turnberg Labour

Members' declared interests will soon be available on the Committee's webpages, along with other information about the inquiry:


At its first meeting on 15 September 2004, the Committee elected the Lord Carlile of Berriew as Chairman.


The Joint Committee invites interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence as part of its inquiry into the Draft Mental Health Bill. Submissions, reflecting the guidance on written evidence given in this press notice, should reach the Committee as soon as possible and no later than Monday, 1 November 2004.

Scope of the Committee's inquiry

In particular, the Committee invites evidence on the following themes:

1. Is the Draft Mental Health Bill rooted in a set of unambiguous basic principles? Are these principles appropriate and desirable?

2. Is the definition of Mental Disorder appropriate and unambiguous? Are the conditions for treatment and care under compulsion sufficiently stringent? Are the provisions for assessment and treatment in the Community adequate and sufficient?

3. Does the draft bill achieve the right balance between protecting the personal and human rights of the mentally ill on one hand, and concerns for public and personal safety on the other?

4. Are the proposals contained in the Draft Mental Health Bill necessary, workable, efficient, and clear? Are there any important omissions in the Bill?

5. Is the proposed institutional framework appropriate and sufficient for the enforcement of measures contained in the draft bill?

6. Are the safeguards against abuse adequate? Are the safeguards in respect of particularly vulnerable groups, for example children, sufficient? Are there enough safeguards against misuse of aggressive procedures such as ECT and psychosurgery?

7. Is the balance struck between what has been included on the face of the draft bill, and what goes into Regulations and the Code of Practices right?

8. Is the Draft Mental Health Bill adequately integrated with the Mental Capacity Bill (as introduced in the House of Commons on 17 July 2004)?

9. Is the Draft Mental Health Bill in full compliance with the Human Rights Act?

10. What are likely to be the human and financial resource implications of the draft bill? What will be the effect on the roles of professionals? Has the Government analysed the effects of the Bill adequately, and will sufficient resources be available to cover any costs arising from implementation of the Bill?

Written evidence

All written evidence should be submitted to the Joint Committee no later than Monday, 1 November 2004. Given the limited time available for the submission of evidence and for the completion of the Committee's work, written evidence should be short and should concentrate on the major issues arising from the draft bill. Witnesses should feel free to cover only those aspects of the draft bill in which they are particularly interested.  The Committee cannot investigate the treatment of individuals, evidence should  address the general points listed.

Written evidence should contain, if appropriate, a brief introduction to the persons or organisations submitting it. Submissions should take the form of a memorandum and should have numbered paragraphs. They should not exceed 1,500 words in length. Unless submissions are very short, they should be accompanied by a summary. Submissions may be accompanied by background material (perhaps already published elsewhere), which will not be reprinted by the Joint Committee.

We wish to receive written evidence, if possible, in MS Word or rich text format, by e-mail to scrutiny@parliament.uk.  A single hard copy (single-sided, unbound) should also be sent to Richard Dawson (Draft Mental Health Bill), Committee Office Scrutiny Unit, House of Commons, London, SW1P 3JA.

Once written evidence has been submitted it becomes the property of the Committee. Those who have submitted written evidence to the Joint Committee are welcome to publish their evidence themselves (for example, by placing it on their own website), provided that it is not published until after the Joint Committee has acknowledged receipt of the evidence and that it is made clear that the document was prepared as evidence to the Joint Committee. Written submissions from those giving oral evidence will be available at the relevant hearing. Written evidence will, wherever possible, be posted on the Committee's web pages, and then either be published by the Committee with its final Report or placed in the public domain when that Report is published. Individuals and organisations considering submitting information to the Committee that they would wish the Committee to treat as confidential should consult the Clerks in advance, initially by sending an e-mail to the address given above.

To follow the progress of the inquiry, you may visit the Committee's website:


If you wish to be added to the mailing list for future press notices from the Committee, please contact:

Richard Dawson
Committee Office Scrutiny Unit
House of Commons
London   SW1P 3JA

E-mail: scrutiny@parliament.uk   (Please put  Mental Health in the subject box).

Tel: 020 7219 8363

Fax 020 7219 8381