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Mental Disorder: Autism and Learning Disabilities - Private Notice Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:20 pm on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Lord Touhig Lord Touhig Labour 3:20 pm, 5th November 2019

My Lords, since 2015, there has been a 24% increase in the number of autistic people sectioned, even if they have no mental illness, because the Mental Health Act defines autism as a mental disorder. Autism is not a mental disorder. Last weekend, the Health Secretary promised to detach autism and learning difficulties from mental health legislation. That is most welcome, as is the appointment of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, to chair an independent panel to oversee case reviews.

However, those reviews will be conducted over a 12-month period. I press the Minister for one more step. Will the Government set up an advice hotline for families who are in despair because they have no idea where to go for help or advice as their children—and they are children—face Christmas locked up and detained by a medieval practice that deprives them of the human rights?