MHA 1983 s141
This section provides that an MP who is detained for over six months on the ground that he is suffering from mental disorder will lose his seat. For the exact time-frame, see the section text. It also applies to the devolved assemblies with some amendments. The provision has never been used.
In the final report of the Speaker's Conference on Parliamentary Representation, published on 6/1/10, MPs recommend that this section be repealed. Extracts follow:
- 63. The law on disqualification from Membership is not consistent or logical in its treatment of various types of illness or disorder. If a Member suffers from serious physical illness—say a stroke—that can leave constituents effectively un-represented in much the same way as if a Member has a serious mental disorder. Yet there is no parallel provision to s141 of the Mental Health Act 1983 for cases of physical illness. We have received substantial evidence from a number of sources, both expert and lay, to suggest that s141 wrongly implies that mental illness is in some way fundamentally different in its effects from physical illness. Yet the House, through its medical services, can provide care and assistance for those with mental illness, just as it can for those with physical illness. (Paragraph 325)
- 64. We believe that s141 of the 1983 Mental Health Act is unnecessary and damaging. It embodies attitudes which stigmatise and sap the confidence of people with mental illness. Section 141 should be repealed as soon as practicable. (Paragraph 327)
- 65. We recognise, however, that some provision may be needed to protect the legitimate interests of constituents and the House in circumstances where a Member is physically or mentally incapacitated to the extent that he or she is entirely unable to fulfil their duties for an extended period. We recommend that the House should invite an appropriate select committee to undertake an inquiry into this issue, consider whether new legislation or other measures may be needed, and make recommendations to the House and to Government as appropriate. (Paragraph 328)
On 2/2/11 Nick Clegg MP announced that s141 would be abolished.
Related legislation: Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill 2010 — This Private Member's Bill, introduced by Lord Stevenson, received its first reading on 6/4/11. If enacted it would: (1) Repeal s141 MHA 1983 so that the seat of an MP is no longer vacated upon long-term detention under the Act; (2) amend the Juries Act 1974 so that (in addition to the existing category of those lacking capacity) only those liable to be detained under the MHA are excluded from jury service (see jury service page for current provisions); (3) amend the Companies (Model Articles) Regulations 2008 so that a person no longer ceases to be a director when 'by reason of that person’s mental health, a court makes an order which wholly or partly prevents that person from personally exercising any powers or rights which that person would otherwise have'; (4) amend the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007 so it is no longer the case that '[a] person is disqualified from holding or from continuing to hold office as a governor of a school at any time when he is detained under the Mental Health Act 1983'. See Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill 2012.
Changes made by Mental Health Act 2007
- Mental disorder no longer split into separate classifications 3/11/08
- Supervised Community Treatment replaces Supervised Discharge 3/11/08
Any cases with a hyperlink to this legislation will automatically be added here. There may be other relevant cases without a hyperlink, so please check the mental health case law page.
[The chapter/paragraph numbers which appear below (if any) refer to the 2008 versions of the Code of Practice and Reference Guide.]
- Reference Guide to the Mental Health Act 1983, 12. Detention in hospital [Note that the chapter number relates to the old Reference Guide] — paragraphs 12.140 to 12.142
Members of Parliament suffering from mental illness
- Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013 s1(1) (28/4/13). Also, s1(2) states: 'Any rule of the common law which disqualifies a person from membership of the House of Commons on grounds of mental illness is abolished.'