HC Deb 16 July 1985 vol 83 cc160-1
8. Mr. Proctor

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a further statement on progress in implementing the Mental Health Act 1983.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Implementation of the Mental Health Act is continuing satisfactorily.

Mr. Proctor

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that people involved in mental health matters are concerned that the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work is adopting a negative attitude towards the training of approved social workers under the Act? Is he confident that there will be sufficient approved social workers to fulfill the functions of the Act later in the year?

Mr. Clarke

With respect, I think that my hon. Friend's criticisms should be directed not at CCETSW but at WALCO, which is still continuing the ridiculous boycott of the courses that had been arranged for approved mental health workers. I hope that the union will soon end its unhelpful attitude. It is rejecting a policy that had all-party support and preventing the building up of a cadre of professionally trained people.

Mr. Eastham

Does the Mental Health Act 1983 contain provisions covering people serving in prisons? At Strangeways prison 12 prisoners are designated as mentally ill. When I visited the prison last Friday, I heard of one prisoner who was partially sighted and mentally inadequate and on remand on a charge involving about £6. It is costing about £250 a week to keep him in prison.

Mr. Clarke

We are desperately anxious to end this problem of people in prison who are mentally ill and require treatment. I am glad that their numbers are decreasing. This is however, a long-standing problem. New powers have been brought into effect whereby prisoners can be remanded to mental hospitals for reports. That, I hope, has helped to alleviate some of the problems. I am sorry that it has not been used in the case to which the hon. Gentleman referred.