Mental Health Law Plan Challenged

The government is facing the prospect of House of Lords defeat over controversial plans to lock up some mentally ill people.

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

Critics have argued that the measures are too draconian.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will come together to demand a string of amendments.

The bill would allow the enforced detention of people who are mentally ill, even if they have not committed any crime.

And it would strengthen powers, established in 1983, to ensure patients have therapy once they are released back into the community.

Health Minister Lord Warner has said the aim of the bill is to protect the public and patients from harm.

Between 55 and 60 murders a year are committed by mentally ill patients.

The bill was promised in the Queen’s Speech and comes after previous attempts to change the existing Mental Health Act were thwarted by opposition from campaigners and some doctors.

The changes would affect about 14,000 of the 600,000 people who use mental health services each year.