Charles Walker moves amendment to Bill to combat mental health discrimination

Charles Walker MP speaking in the House of Commons

Charles Walker moves a minor amendment to the Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill. The Bill repeals laws that can prevent people with mental health conditions from serving as MPs, jurors, or company directors. The amendment makes technical changes to the wording in the Juries Act to remove the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): I beg to move amendment 1, page 1, line 9, leave out from beginning to ‘, for’ in line 10 and insert—

‘(1) In section 1 of the Juries Act 1974 (qualification for jury service)—

(a) in subsection (1), omit paragraph (c) (but not the “and” after it),

(b) omit subsection (2), and

(c) in subsection (3), for “Part 2 of the Schedule” substitute “Schedule 1”.

(2) In Schedule 1 to that Act (the title to which becomes “Persons Disqualified for Jury Service”, with the title to Part 1 becoming “Persons subject to the Mental Health Act 1983 or Mental Capacity Act 2005” and the title to Part 2 becoming “Other Persons Disqualified for Jury Service”)’.

My amendment would make a minor technical change to the amendments the Bill makes to the Juries Act 1974. It would remove the term “mentally disordered persons” from section 1 of the Act and tidy up the cross-referencing between section 1 and the list of those disqualified for jury service in schedule 1. The amendment is supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell).

Specifically, the references to “Mentally disordered persons” in section 1 of the 1974 Act will be removed and further provisions made in section 1 consequential to that. That will leave the section so worded as to provide that those persons listed in schedule 1 to the 1974 Act will be disqualified from jury service. The title of schedule 1 to that Act will be amended to read “Persons Disqualified for Jury Service”. The headings to parts I and II of schedule 1 are amended accordingly, from “Mentally disordered persons” to “Persons subject to the Mental Health Act 1983 or Mental Capacity Act 2005” and from “Persons disqualified” to “Other persons disqualified for jury service” respectively. The substantive change that the Bill makes to the 1974 Act, which is to remove the disqualification on service as a juror from those who voluntarily receive treatment in the community for a mental health disorder, remains the same.

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Mr Charles Walker: I just want to express a few thanks. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell) for piloting the Bill so expertly through Parliament. What a fantastic job he has done! I thank Rowena Daw of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who has been a fantastic supporter of the Bill. I thank the officials. I suspect that there has been a true Horatio among them who has worked very hard to bring the Bill to fruition. I thank the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) for his sterling support from the Opposition Benches. He, too, has been a true hero.

This is great occasion for Parliament and I am glad to have had a small walk-on part in it.

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