Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 15th June 2018.

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Amendment made: 7, page 8, line 32, leave out

“has the meaning given by section 2”

and insert

“means a person appointed under section 2(1)”.—(Jackie Doyle-Price.)

This improves the drafting of the definition of “responsible person.


That Clause 15 be transferred to the end of line 15 on page 9. —(Jackie Doyle-Price.)


Amendment made: 8, line 2, leave out “and similar institutions”.—(Jackie Doyle-Price.)

This removes from the long title a reference to “similar institutions” as these are not covered by the Bill.

Third Reading

Photo of Steve Reed Steve Reed Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Civil Society) 2:21 pm, 15th June 2018

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Given that we have only nine minutes, I shall be extremely brief. I grateful to Members from all parties for their support for the Bill’s intentions and ambitions. Having spoken to many advocacy and professional groups outside the House, I know that the Bill in its current state will, if passed, give the United Kingdom some of the best legislation in the world to protect mental health patients from abusive or excessive restraint. That is exactly as it should be.

The Bill will make a difference in four broad areas. First, on accountability, by requiring the appointment of a named senior manager in each mental health unit to be accountable for the existence and implementation of a policy governing the use of restraint and its reduction, the Bill will ensure clear and direct accountability for how restraint is used.

By standardising the reporting of incidents of restraint throughout the country so that they are recorded in exactly the same way against the same demographics, we will be able to see for the first time where the best practice really is, so that it can be spread. That will also allow us to scrutinise the data so that if particular groups—for example, women, BME people, young men and people with disabilities—are subject to more frequent or more severe forms of restraint than other groups, that can be corrected.

According to academic research, the requirement on the police, when operationally practicable, to wear body cameras in and of itself reduces the likelihood of restraint being used by the police by 50%. That alone makes it worth doing, but it also protects the police against vexatious complaints and provides evidence when things do go wrong so that lessons can be properly learned to prevent any repetition.

I am grateful for the Minister’s comments on Report about the investigation of deaths. It is important that those investigations happen immediately following a death or serious incident, and it is critical that they are sufficiently independent to allow people to learn what has gone wrong to prevent any repetition and deliver justice to the family of any victim. It is important, too, that there is consistency among all forms of state custody and that mental health custody is not treated disadvantageously compared with police or prison custody, so I welcome the Minister’s commitment to achieve that through the deaths in custody panel that she co-chairs.

I said that I would be brief, and I will to stick to my word. The Bill is an important step away from the containment of people who are mentally ill towards treating them with the care and compassion that their circumstances deserve. It will give this country mental health services that are fair and equal for everybody.

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 2:24 pm, 15th June 2018

I cannot pay tribute enough to Mr Reed for his incredible leadership in getting us to this point. He has made it extremely easy for me to work with him and to engage with the sector. I cannot overstate the signal that this reform will send both in terms of how we treat mental health and how we treat patients and enhance their rights; it will be extremely significant indeed. When, as I hope, the Bill gets on to the statute book, he can really be proud of a very significant achievement. I am very pleased that he was able to use his place in the ballot to bring forward such a progressive and important measure.

I could not disagree with a word the hon. Gentleman said as he introduced the Bill’s Third Reading. He was absolutely right. For too long, restrictive interventions have been accepted as the norm in health and in mental healthcare settings, as Norman Lamb said.

It has been great to have the right hon. Gentleman’s input into today’s proceedings. He is the one who blazed the trail that I am trying to follow, which is quite a tough act it has to be said, but we are all extremely grateful for the real efforts that he made while he was a Minister, and I hope to build on the change that he started to embed.

We must expect that restrictive interventions and the use of force must never be used for the purpose of punishment, or to degrade or to humiliate patients. Mental health settings are places where people should feel safe, and it is clear that the existing guidance is not having the impact that the Government expected, and that we must do more. This Bill will be a very important tool to achieve that.

I come back to why we are here today: the death of Seni Lewis. The measure of the Bill’s success will be in the strength of the independence of the investigations and in the support that bereaved families get should, unfortunately, any other family find themselves in this situation. That is the yardstick against which the Bill should be measured. We should be very sensitive to ensure that we all continue to do our best so that, when people are let down by organisations of the state, we in this House are at the front of the queue to see that they get justice—and justice promptly, because justice delayed is justice denied.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 2:27 pm, 15th June 2018

I, too, pay tribute to Mr Reed for bringing forward this Bill. He has done a masterly job. I was also impressed by much of what the Minister said in response to concerns that have been expressed. None the less, there are still some unanswered questions, particularly around the implementation of the Bill.

The Minister has said that she will bring forward guidance as a substitute for some of the provisions that we think should have been included in the Bill. She said that we did not need other aspects that we thought should be included in the Bill because they were already in law. I hope that we will be able to keep up the pressure on the Minister to come forward with more precise answers regarding when she will publish the draft guidance.

On Report, I asked the Minister what state the draft guidance was in at the moment and if it was in a form in which it could be produced. I did not get an answer to that question. I also did not get an answer to the question of whether draft guidance would be published before the Bill goes to the other place. There is a lot to be said for the Government publishing the draft guidance tomorrow, say, or next week. One merit of doing that would be that if the Bill’s Third Reading debate does not conclude today, we would have the chance to look at that draft guidance before commenting on it during the remainder of the debate.

As the hon. Member for Croydon North said, the Bill is important because it introduces means by which we can measure lots of things that are happening in our mental health units about which we are not aware at the moment. As we know, what we cannot measure, we cannot control.

I remain concerned that some of the information that will be produced as a result of the Bill could lead to unintended consequences, as my hon. Friend Philip Davies also mentioned. We heard a reference to the fact that women in mental health units suffer more force against them than men, but that might be because only the most serious cases of women in mental units are brought before the—

The debate stood adjourned (Standing Order No. 11(2)).

Ordered, That the debate be resumed on Friday 6 July.