Mentally Ill to Be Allowed to Become MPs, Serve on Juries and Be Company Directors

Rosa Prince, Telegraph (London), September 14, 2012

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, were among those who gave their backing to the Bill, which was introduced to the Commons by the Conservative backbencher Gavin Barwell.

It repeals the practice of barring those who have suffered from severe mental health issues from serving on juries or as company directors. MPs who have been institutionalised for psychiatric reasons for more than six months will no longer be forced to stand down from Parliament.

In a rare show of unity in the House of Commons, the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill was passed without a vote. Private Members Bills such as Mr Barwell’s usually fail to win support, and are talked out of time when they reach the Commons.

But after the Government and Opposition sung behind the new law, the bill was passed with politicians on all sides of the health praising the reform.

Mr Clegg said: “It’s ludicrous in this day and age that a person can’t contribute to public life if they’ve had issues with their mental health.

“Discrimination like this has no place in modern society and it is right that these rules are repealed. These long overdue reforms will send out a positive message that the stigmatisation of people who have mental health problems should not be tolerated.”

Mr Miliband added: “These changes will help bring public understanding and attitudes towards mental health into the 21st Century.

“They will send a message that discrimination against people with mental ill health has no place in modern Britain.

“If people with experience of mental ill health play a full part in public life, our country will be a better place for it.”

Charles Walker, a Conservative MP who has previously spoken movingly about his battle with mental illness, was among those who supported the new law. “I am delighted to say that I have been a practising fruitcake for 31 years,” he told MPs.

“What we’re seeing is an absolute sea-change in the reporting of mental health problems. There’s still some distance to go but things are improving and they are improving quickly.”

The legislation repeals part of the 1983 Mental Health Act which forces MPs and members of the devolved assemblies to stand down if they have been sectioned for more than six moths.

It also relaxes the rules on jury selection and company directorships as they apply to mental illness.

Mr Barwell said: “It is high time we dragged the law of the land into the 21st century. 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. Many people who are fully capable of performing jury service are ineligible to do so.

“The law as it stands sends out a clear message that if someone has a mental health condition, their contribution to public life is not welcome. That is an affront to a decent civilised society.”

Chloe Smith, a Cabinet Office minister, confirmed that the Government was giving its “full backing” to the Bill.

“It cannot be right that in the 21st century it is possible for somebody to be automatically expelled from this place, from the House of Commons, because they have had a mental illness,” she said.

“It sends out entirely the wrong message that if you have mental health problems, your contribution is not welcome in public life, not only for the House of Commons but of course also on a jury and in a directorship.”

The Bill, which will now go on to the next stage of the Parliamentary process, has the support of mental health charities and the Royal College of Phychiatrists.

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Puggg

    The mentally ill can serve in the U.S. Congress.  Hence, the Democratic Party.

    • NorthernWind

      The vast majority of politicians are sociopaths in my opinion.

    • Strider73

      There’s plenty of Republican mental cases as well, in Congress and elsewhere.

      “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”    — Mark Twain

    • RisingReich

       Let me correct you.  Hence, the US Congress.

    • Zorro

      The mentally ill are running things all over the world, so what’s the difference if they sit on Juries?

      Yes, things have truly descended into Hell, and now it is like living in the Twilight Zone.

  • ncpride

     “I am delighted to say that I have been a practising fruitcake for 31 years,” he told MPs.

    You, along with the entire British Goverment!  It explains a lot when trying to understand why you have ruined your country, and continue to do so at breakneck speed. But I’m not picking on you, fellow British readers…..Here in America, we have the fruitiest of fruitcakes running Government.

  • Ulick

    This is nothing new.  The MPs of the past sixty years must have been mentally ill to allow what happend to Britain.

  • jedsrael

    This is actually good news.

    Unlike our current mentally healthy ruling elites who make all decisions base on helping along the progress of anti White privilege, the mentally ill won’t suffer from the same sickness and might rule in our favor on occasion.That’s how bad we’ve got it- knowing that your rulers are sadists, and looking forward to possibly less harm from the certified whack-os.

    • Zorro

      Your post reminded me of the movie, “The Big Red One” with Lee Marvin. His platoon, in World War II entered a Mental Sanitarium, as I remember in Belgium, where his men were engaged in a firefiight with the German Soldiers that were posted around the Hospital. One of the Mental patients picked up a machine gun that was dropped by a wounded  Soldier and began shooting it at everyone in sight, while yelling, “I’m sane. I’m sane”.

  • loyalwhitebriton

    Notice that Labour, Conservative, and Liberal politicians are supporting this Bill.
    What other proof do you need that this country is being run by a bunch of nut cases.

    Cleggy said ..”these long overdue reforms will send out a positive message that the stigmatisation of people who have mental health problems should not be tolerated.”
    Hmm. The Liberals support Affirmative Action (which in the UK is referred to as ‘Positive Discrimination’ – but means the same thing, ie, discrimination against whites).
    Cleggy and his tree hugging Libs also support PC legislation which prevents Christians from wearing crosses at work; yet they are OK with Muslims, Sikhs, etc, wearing their religious garb at work.

    So, it’s OK to mentally ill, but not OK to be white and Christian?
    Yep, that just about sums up modern Britain.

    • Zorro

      So, why don’t you file one Discrimination law suit after another, until they back off the White British Christians?

      • loyalwhitebriton

        Since Britain sold its sovereignty to the EU when we joined the EEC in 1973, more and more things are done in Brussels and Strasbourg; our ancient House of Commons is, these days, nothing more than an anachronism.
        Why do I mention this? It’s because that there is currently a group of British Christians who are fighting discrimination, from their employers, in the European Court. David Cameron has given them his full backing.
        But here is the twist: Lawyers representing the British Government are fighting against said group of British Christians; by arguing, for example, that employers should be able to prohibit Christians from wearing crosses at work. And it’s rather telling that these prohibitions only apply to Christians.

  • At least they don’t have a half breed president!

  • Screamin_Ruffed_Grouse

    You know, really, to me this just sounds like some grandstanding MPs cynically trying to take credit for policies of longstanding.

  • Oil Can Harry

    So now the mentally ill can serve on juries?

    Future British juror: “Why did they arrest this nice Charles Manson person? I remember seeing him in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole helping the elves build toys.”

    “I will refuse to convict such a wonderful guy. I’ll hang the jury if need be! Oh, and buy the way: Al Sharpton for Prime Minister!” 

    • refocus

       The jury?  All, each and every one on it, is selected on the basis of: lack of income, lack of business experience, lack of property ownership, whether or not they are being proscribed psychotropic drugs which is preferred, and the miserable condition of their abode.

  • So which one of these fruitcakes came up with “diversity is our greatest strength,” mantra, as justification for allowing hordes of third worlders into western society?

  • A great number of UK politicians were and  are mentally deranged, how otherwise would they flood  the country with third world immigrants without the consent of the english people ?

  • refocus

    The last 100 years of presidents in the USA demonstrates that the American voters have passed the threshold of mental retardation.

  • Zorro

    Your next Presidential Candidate in 2016.

  • anonymous_amren

    This is actually a good thing. It allows people like Emma West to become MPs and serve on juries. Never forget what is considered a mental illness in western countries, and what is considered sanity.

  • I’m overwhelmed by the insulting media of America. I’m American. 10% of the crimes of murder is committed by the mentally ill. Men are 9 times more like to kill than a Mentally ill person. 75% of the mass murderers did not have a form of mental illness. No offense, has anyone noticed the complexion of the mass murderers of US. I wrote every human alive and a forensic scientist (tv often) validated me. I asked him through facebook, how can they be mentally ill if there is no mentally illness that gives ONLY young males these symptoms. He said I had a very important point. that society has to place blame on “crazy people” because they can’t handle anyone not crazy making evil choses.so I quess they have to be less than human which is “crazy”. That makes it difficult for employment, entrance in universities and the phobia placed on you. So he would take that issue up and also CNN took it up. Now, it’s white male racial profiling if you take it up. Everyone is outraged. Now they constantly saying it’s the crazy people, the mentally ill people. You shouldn’t be PROFILING? Excuse me? They did not just profile? What can you do with mob mentality?