§ Mr. Wray
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what facilities were available during the last general election to psychiatric patients interned in Scottish hospitals for the exercise of their right to vote as ordered in the Representation of the People Act 1983; and if he will make a statement.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Patients detained in mental hospitals under the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 are not entitled to be registered as electors or to vote. Most patients in mental hospitals have been admitted without formality and are not subject to detention. Of these informal patients, some are already registered as electors in respect of their home address. Others not registered as electors in respect of their home address may, by making a "patient declaration", have their names included on the electoral register in respect of an address outside the hospital where they would otherwise be resident (or, failing which, a former address). It was open to informal patients included on the electoral register to vote in person at the general election or, if unable to do so, for example because of distance or physical illness, to apply to vote by post or by proxy. Appropriate guidance was issued to health boards in 1983, 1986 and 1987.