§ Lord Avebury
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many prisoners in England and Wales, who completed determinate sentences in 1981, were transferred to a special hospital instead of being released; what right of appeal a prisoner has against an order transferring him to a special hospital; and whether any changes are contemplated in these arrangements under the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill.
§ Lord Belstead
Fifteen prisoners serving determinate sentences were transferred to special hospitals in 1981 by direction of the Home Secretary under Section 72 of the Mental Health Act 1959. Two of these prisoners were transferred on the day on which they1190WA would otherwise have been released and one prisoner was transferred on the day before his release date.
The Act prescribes no right of appeal against a transfer direction. After the transfer takes place there is provision for a transferred patient to apply to, or request that his case be referred to, a mental health review tribunal. The period within which such a patient is entitled to have his case considered by a tribunal and the ability of the tribunal either to order or recommend his discharge both depend on whether or not the Secretary of State has also made a restriction direction under Section 74 of the 1959 Act and on the expiry date of the original sentence of imprisonment. The Mental Health (Amendment) Bill proposes that a prisoner who is transferred to hospital with a restriction under Section 74 should cease to be subject to that direction on what would have been his earliest (rather than, as at present, his latest) date of release from prison. Amendments to the Bill which have been tabled by the Government will, if approved, make other changes in the tribunal entitlements of transferred prisoners. I have undertaken that further consideration will be given, in the light of views expressed by noble Lords on 19th January, to the tribunal entitlements of patients sent to hospital by order of a court. This reconsideration will extend to patients who have been transferred from prison.