HL Deb 27 October 1982 vol 435 cc515-6

28 Clause 36, page 25, line 39, after 'be' insert 'liable to be'.

29 Clause 36, page 26, leave out lines 19 and 20 and insert— '(1B) A tribunal may under subsection (1) of this section direct the discharge of a patient on a future date specified in the direction; and where a tribunal do not direct the discharge of a patient under that subsection the tribunal may—

  1. (a) with a view to facilitating his discharge on a future date, recommend that he be granted leave of absence or transferred to another hospital or into guardianship; and
  2. (b) further consider his case in the event of any such recommendation not being complied with.".'.

30 Clause 36, page 26, line 30, at end insert— '(5A) Any functions conferred on the chairman of a Mental Health Review Tribunal by rules under section 124 of the principal Act may, if for any reason he is unable to act, be exercised by another member of that Tribunal appointed by him for the purpose.'.

31 Clause 37, page 27, line 13, leave out 'as to the condition of a patient'.

32 Clause 37, page 27, line 18, after first 'the', insert 'detention or'.

33 Clause 37, page 27, line 28, leave out subsection (6) and insert— '(6) References in this section to a hospital shall be construed as references to a hospital within the meaning of Part IV of the principal Act.'.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, these six amendments—that is to say, Nos. 28 to 33—made to Part V of the Bill in another place, are for the most part technical, and I will not delay your Lordships by expounding them in detail. I believe, however, that your Lordships will be particularly pleased to see Amendment No. 29, which extends the range of options open to a mental health review tribunal when considering a case. This was a matter raised by your Lordships both in Committee and on Report. Your Lordships may recall that we had intended to provide for this extension by means of the tribunal rules made by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, but so as to make our intentions absolutely clear to both Houses we have agreed instead to provide for this extension on the face of the Bill itself. I hope your Lordships likewise will be persuaded of the merits of this proposal.

I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 28 to 33.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendments.—(Lord Trefgarne.)

Lord Wallace of Coslany

My Lords, I would welcome these amendments, because they go a long way to ease the minds of a lot of people on this issue. There is one point I want to raise, and this is the only place I can raise it. The Government in their very generous allocation of notes on possible amendments referred to legal aid. I pressed this very strongly when the Bill was going through its various stages in the House. The Government say that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has announced his intention of making regulations under the Legal Aid Act 1974 to provide legal assistance by way of representation of patients. That is excellent news, of course. The only question I have is: when is this likely to take place? Will it more or less coincide with the coming into force of the Act? This is quite an important point of principle. That is the only question I have; otherwise I welcome the amendments.

Lord Renton

My Lords, as I was one of those who pressed rather hard for legal aid in these cases, I, too, would like to acknowledge what the Lord Chancellor has done. I think the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, is one in respect of which we are entitled to an answer.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, may I also add my support to the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, as we, too, have been strongly in favour of legal aid for representation of patients before mental health review tribunals. I was very glad to learn from the Standing Committee proceedings of 22nd April in another place of the noble and learned Lord's proposal to bring forward regulations under Section 2A(3) of the Legal Aid Act 1974 as soon as possible. In evidence on that day the representative of the Lord Chancellor's office said that the Lord Chancellor hoped to bring forward regulations in the late summer or early autumn when the necessary consultations are complete.

As this is particularly important in view of the clauses now in this Bill providing increased access to tribunals—the tribunals will have a great many more applications—could I press the Government to tell us how far these consultations have got and whether the new machinery will be in position by the time the Act comes into force?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I believe I can satisfy your Lordships on this point. The advice I have is that regulations are being prepared and will come into force within the next few months. I deduce from that, although I do not have it in black and white, that the consultations are complete, and that it is now simply a matter of completing the necessary administrative arrangements. I would certainly hope that the regulations will be in force by the time the Act comes into force.

On Question, Motion agreed to.