Mental Health Bill [HL]
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Baronesses in Waiting, HM Household; Labour)
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, argued as persuasively for this amendment today as he did in Committee for a slightly different amendment. However, he will be glad to hear that we have some sympathy with the amendment, although there are a couple of important things to bear in mind.
First, as the noble Lord noted, there is current work to establish a new single regulator in England replacing the Mental Health Act Commission, the Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection. We argue that the issue in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Patel, sits comfortably with that work and will be considered as part of the creation of the new regulator during 2008.
Secondly, the amendment may cut across monitoring proposals for the Bournewood safeguards. The statement of intent that we have published outlines how the monitoring function will be conferred on the three existing inspectorates in England, including the Mental Health Act Commission. After the establishment of the new single regulator, the function would transfer to that body. We would not wish to establish powers that might not dovetail with that.
The amendment is unnecessary because provision to achieve the intention behind it is already contained in the Mental Health Act 1983. The Act gives the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales a duty to keep under review the powers and duties relating to detained patients and directs her to delegate that duty to the Mental Health Act Commission. Section 121(4) allows the Secretary of State, following a request from or after consultation with the commission, and after any other consultation that she sees fit, to direct the commission to keep under review the care and treatment of any patients not liable to be detained.
However, I can give noble Lords a commitment that we will explore making a direction under Section 121(4). This will be no quick fix, because we are required to carry out a consultation and we would need to have discussions with colleagues in the Welsh Assembly Government to explore the options available there. Any future work in respect of Wales, including a formal consultation, would of course require the agreement of Welsh Ministers. However, on that basis and with that firm commitment, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.