HC Deb 10 March 1977 vol 927 cc1613-4
3. Mr. Bradford

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he intends to amend the Mental Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1961 making it a statutory obligation to inform a patient in a Northern Ireland mental hospital that he or she has been categorised as an informal patient and is free to leave the hospital at will.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Ray Carter)

No, Sir.

Mr. Bradford

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that one in four mental health cases in Northern Ireland is admitted compulsorily under the emergency procedure and that this is detrimental to the rights of individuals? Is he aware of the concern about the emergency procedure and about the need for Northern Ireland's Mental Health Act 1961 to be brought into line with the United Kingdom's 1959 Act? Does he agree that before electroconvulsive therapy is applied the permission of a patient or his nearest relative ought to be obtained? Does he—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I know that the hon. Gentleman is a fellow Methodist preacher, but he is going on a bit.

Mr. Carter

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's interest in this subject and of the correspondence that he has had with my noble Friend. He will be aware that procedures exist to meet the point that he is making and, probably more important, the 1961 Act is under review and it is possible that statutory measures may be taken to meet the other points that the hon. Gentleman was making.

Mr. Molyneaux

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that relatives and next of kin should have a stronger influence on decisions affecting the extent and form of treatment of mental patients?

Mr. Carter

Next of kin are informed at the same time as patients when a formal stage is reached in a patient's residence in an institution.