Azara Blog: House of Lords defeats government over Mental Health Bill

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Date published: 2007/02/20

The BBC says:

The government has suffered three defeats in the House of Lords over plans to detain mental health patients who have not committed an offence.

The Mental Health Bill would allow people with severe personality disorders to be confined if judged a threat to themselves or others.

Peers voted that treatment could only be given if it is likely to help.

They also voted to remove some grounds for diagnosis and ensure more frequent examinations of detained patients.

Critics argue the bill is draconian and could prevent some people from coming forward to seek treatment.

This Mental Health Bill is perfectly in keeping with the Blair belief in the so-called precautionary principle, that if something is bad you do all you can to prevent it even if a lot of innocent people suffer. Here the idea is that some mentally ill people will attack other people, and to prevent this we need to lock up lots of mentally ill people because we don't know which ones will actually cause the problems. Well, with this excuse you might as well lock up all men between the age of 15 and 30 because they cause most crime. The only reason Blair gets away with this crazy approach is that everybody assumes it is someone else who will get swept up in the draconian dragnet. Fortunately on this front the House of Lords is a small counterweight to Blair.

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