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Win for Mental Health Bill critics

Critics of the government's Mental Health Bill have secured a victory after MPs backed new safeguards on powers to detain patients with severe personality disorders.

A compromise drawn up by Labour's Chris Bryant was approved without a vote after receiving cross party backing.

The amendment brings in a new "treatability test" in a bid to ensure compulsory treatment must have a "therapeutic benefit".

Mental health charity Mind and the Mental Health Coalition both supported the move.

Mr Bryant, the MP for Rhondda, said: "Any psychiatric unit cannot be prison by another name. It must be a therapeutic environment.

"Every person, whatever their mental condition, whether it is a mental condition which we presently believe is curable or not, must have the right to appropriate treatment.

"We simply cannot wash our hands of them. We cannot just be detaining people for the purpose of detaining them. There has to be some kind of therapeutic benefit."

The Bill allows people with severe mental health problems to be detained if they are judged to be a threat to themselves or others.

It was introduced after several high profile murders involving disturbed patients, but some critics said its powers were draconian and too wide ranging.

Peers have already inflicted a number of defeats on the government over the Bill, which is now set to return to the Lords again.

Chris Bryant


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