Mental Health Amending Bill: Government defeated on compulsion

A cross-party alliance of peers last night defeated the Government by 225 votes to 119 on the first of a series of amendments to the Mental Health Amending Bill being moved in Committee in the Lords.

The amendment, which was tabled by Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson in the Lords, Baroness Barker, will ensure that people who have full decision making ability, and who have not committed any crime, cannot be forced to have psychiatric treatment.

Speaking about the victory by the cross-party group, Baroness Barker said: “This amendment ensures that clinicians have greater freedom than they would under the Government’s proposals to exercise their professional judgement about the ability of people who are mentally ill to understand and comply with treatment which will be for their benefit.

“If people who are subject to mental health services are involved in decisions about their treatment their compliance with treatment regimes will be greater and safety for all will be increased.”

She added: “This is the first of many crucial changes, with cross-party support in the Lords, which are necessary to ensure that the public get mental health care fit for this century.”

Further defeats for the Government are expected as the Bill moves through its various stages in the Lords and Commons. Around 50 Labour MPs have already signalled their intention to oppose the Bill when it returns to the Commons next month.

To find out more about the progress of the Bill and to see the up-to-date list of tabled amendments click here.