HL Deb 27 October 1982 vol 435 cc546-8

72 Page 33, line 23, at end insert— '(3A) The Secretary of State may, at the request of or after consultation with the Commission and after consulting such other bodies as appear to him to be concerned, direct the Commission to keep under review the care and treatment, or any aspect of the care and treatment, in hospitals and mental nursing homes of patients who are not liable to be detained under the principal Act or this Act. (3B) For the purpose of any such review as is mentioned in subsection (3A) above any person authorised in that behalf by the Commission may at any reasonable time—

  1. (a) visit and interview and, if he is a medical practitioner, examine in private any patient in a mental nursing home; and
  2. (b) require the production of and inspect any records relating to the treatment of any person who is or has been a patient in a mental nursing home.
(3C) The Secretary of State may make such provision as he may with the approval of the Treasury determine for the payment of remuneration, allowances, pensions or gratuities to or in respect of persons exercising functions in relation to any such review as is mentioned in subsection (3A) above. (3D) The Commission shall review any decision to withhold a postal packet (or anything contained in it) under subsection (1)(b) or (2) of section 40 above if an application in that behalf is made—
  1. (a) in a case under subsection (1)(b), by the patient; or
  2. (b) in a case under subsection (2), either by the patient or by the person by whom the postal packet was sent:
and any such application shall be made within six months of the receipt by the applicant of the notice referred to in subsection (6) of that section.
(3E) On an application under subsection (3D) above the Commission may direct that the postal packet which is the subject of the application (or anything contained in it) shall not be withheld and the managers in question shall comply with any such direction. (3F) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision with respect to the making and determination of applications under subsection (3D) above, including provision for the production to the Commission of any postal packet which is the subject of such an application'.

73 Page 33, line 24, leave out 'third' and insert 'second'.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I beg to move that the House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 72 and 73, which were discussed with Amendment No. 51. My Lords, I beg to move.

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

Lord Renton

My Lords, I wonder whether I may say a brief word about Amendment No. 72. This is an important amendment, whereby the Mental Health Act Commission may be directed by the Secretary of State to keep under review the care and treatment of voluntary patients. That is a considerable advance on the original concept, whereby only detained patients came under the control of the commission, and we welcome it. But had we been in a different stage of the Session, I would have moved to leave out, purely as a matter of drafting, some words in line 5 of the new subsection (3A) which appear to me to be otiose and unnecessary. They are the words, or any aspect of the care and treatment". They add nothing to the words: review the care and treatment which precede them. There is nothing we can do about it, but I felt that it was desirable just to point that out. Also, I wonder if I may ask my noble friend whether the expression "postal packet", which we find in new subsections (3D), (3E) and (3F), includes letters and postcards. Apart from those minor points, may I say that I think the Government have done well to persuade the House of Commons to make Amendment No. 72.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, on the first point of my noble friend about the drafting and the otiose words, to which he referred, your Lordships will have heard him make that kind of complaint before. I have to confess that my noble friend is almost always right in drawing the attention of your Lordships to these difficulties. I am sorry that this one has been detected at such a late stage in the passage of the Bill that we might have difficulty in persuading the usual channels that time ought to be found in the other place tomorrow to consider just that point. So I hope that my noble friend will not persist with it.

As for the second question which my noble friend put to me, I can assure him that "postal packet" includes letters and postcards. My noble friend also asked for an example of some other aspects of care and treatment, which the Mental Health Act Commission might be asked to look at. We have in mind, for example, that they might be asked to do a particular study of the use of electro-convulsive therapy. But there are, no doubt, other examples which would occur to your Lordships who are familiar with these matters. I hope that those answers reassure my noble friend.

On Question, Motion agreed to.