SCHEDULE 8, Paragraph 19: Mental Health Act 1983
Purpose and Effect
This paragraph amends section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983 for the purposes of ensuring that the Presiding Officer is informed when a member of the Parliament is detained on grounds of mental illness in the same way that the Speaker of the House of Commons is notified when a Member of Parliament is detained. It also enables the Presiding Officer to have the member examined independently by medical practitioners in the same way that the Speaker can provide for such examination of an MP. It also provides that the member’s seat is vacated if he is still detained after 6 months.
Section 141 of the Mental Health Act makes provision for the Speaker of the UK Parliament to be informed if a member of the House of Commons is authorised to be detained on grounds of mental illness. Where the Speaker receives such a notification, or is notified by two MPs that they are credibly informed that such an authorisation has been made, the Speaker can have the member examined by 2 registered medical practitioners appointed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. If they report that he is suffering from mental illness and is authorised to be detained, the Speaker is to have him examined again after six months. If after the second examination the position has not changed, the Speaker must lay both medical reports before the House of Commons and the member’s seat then becomes vacant. This amendment provides for the same procedures to apply to members of the Scottish Parliament detained on grounds of mental illness for the purposes of determining when their seat should become vacant.
Section 17(4) makes further provision in relation to an MSP to whom section 141 as amended applies. In particular it provides that he may not take part in the proceedings of the Parliament while he is disqualified, even though his seat is not yet vacated.
Details of Provisions
Paragraph 19 adds a new subsection (8) to section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983 so as to apply its provisions (as described above) with appropriate modifications to Members of the Scottish Parliament in the same way that it applies to Westminster MPs. The section will then provide for the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament to be informed when any Member of the Scottish Parliament is authorised to be detained on grounds of mental illness, and for the member’s seat to be vacated in accordance with section 141.
The Presiding Officer may be informed of a member’s detention by the court, authority or person on whose order or application the detention was authorised, or by any registered medical practitioners who recommended detention, or by the person in charge of the establishment where the MSP is authorised to be detained. Two members of the Scottish Parliament may also notify the Presiding Officer that they are credibly informed that such an authorisation has been given notification of a detention the Presiding Officer must have the member examined by two registered medical practitioners appointed by the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. A report is then made to the Presiding Officer. A second such report is made after a period of six months from the first report (if the Parliament is sitting: if not as soon as possible thereafter).
If the second report confirms that the member is suffering from mental illness and is still detained the Presiding Officer will lay both reports before the Parliament and the seat of the MSP shall become vacant.
The fees and expenses incurred by medical practitioners in examining the member on behalf of the Scottish Parliament should be paid out of the Scottish Consolidated Fund.