Mentally ill can now become MPs in Britain

September 17th, 2012 - 11:03 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 16 (IANS) British lawmakers have unanimously voted to end “discrimination” against people suffering from mental illness, who will now be able to serve as members of parliament, in juries and as company directors.

In a rare private members bill backed by the House of Commons, the practice of barring those who have suffered from severe mental health issues from serving on juries or as company directors has been repealed, the Telegraph newspaper reported.

MPs who have been institutionalised for psychiatric reasons for more than six months will no longer be forced to stand down from parliament.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband were among those who gave their backing to the bill, introduced to the Commons by Conservative leader Gavin Barwell.

The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill was passed without a vote.

The report said private members bills usually fail to win support, and are talked out of time when they reach the Commons.

“It’s ludicrous in this day and age that a person can’t contribute to public life if they’ve had issues with their mental health,” Clegg was quoted as saying.

“Discrimination like this has no place in modern society, and it is right that these rules are repealed. These long overdue reforms will send out a positive message that the stigmatisation of people who have mental health problems should not be tolerated,” he said.

Miliband said such changes “will help bring public understanding and attitudes towards mental health into the 21st Century”.

“They will send a message that discrimination against people with mental ill health has no place in modern Britain.”

“If people with experience of mental ill health play a full part in public life, our country will be a better place for it,” the opposition leader said.

The legislation repeals part of the 1983 Mental Health Act which forces MPs to stand down if they have been sectioned for more than six moths.

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