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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 Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 3:20 pm, 5th November 2019

I thank the noble Baroness for taking on the chairing of the independent panel. I cannot think of anybody better placed to do so. When it comes to her question about the detention of an individual to improve their behaviour, again, I do not think that anybody in this place or elsewhere could disagree with her. On changing the Mental Health Act, we commissioned the independent review led by Sir Simon Wessely, who is also a leader in the field. He reported in December. In its findings, the review made it clear that we need to modernise the Mental Health Act, ensure that views are respected and ensure that patients are not detained for any longer than is absolutely necessary. Sir Simon stated that there is “no clear consensus” on removing autism from the Act, and that,

“we have heard also about the many negative consequences that could arise from being outside this framework … this should be kept under review”.

Obviously, we will not respond to that immediately. There will be a White Paper by the end of the year. We will consider this carefully and we recognise the strength of feeling on this matter.