Section 141 Mental Health Act 1983, which states an MP must be automatically removed from Parliament if they have been detained under mental health legislation for a period of more than six months, is to be abolished. No such laws apply to MPs suffering from a purely physical illness, such as a stroke or coma, that would prevent them from fulfilling their ministerial duties, however it should be noted that section 141 has never actually been used.
Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, said:
“This law is out of date. It sends out entirely the wrong message that if you have mental health problems your contribution is not welcome in public life. This should not be the case.”
“The long overdue repeal of Section 141 will send out a clear signal from Government that the stigmatisation of people who have mental health problems should not be tolerated.”
The Government’s intention to repeal section 141 was announced on 3 February 2011 in a written ministerial statement. Legislation will be brought forward later this year.