Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Friday, 14 September 2012 16:06 UK

MPs support an end to mental health discrimination.

MPs debated the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill at second reading on 14 September 2012.

The Mental Health Bill is a private members' bill that is being sponsored by Conservative MP Gavin Barwell.

The aim of the bill is to reduce the stigma and negative perceptions associated with mental illness. It seeks to remove legislative provisions that can prevent people with mental health conditions from serving as Members of Parliament, members of the devolved legislatures, jurors, or company directors.

Mr Barwell described as an "affront" the fact that discrimination against people who had suffered mental illness was enshrined in law.

The law sent an "appalling message" to people with mental health conditions, Mr Barwell said. It implied that a person could never fully recover from mental illness and would continue to be excluded from civil society even after making a recovery.

Dame Anne Begg, chair of the work and pensions committee, spoke in support of repealing the law preventing people who had suffered with mental illness for six months from standing as MPs.

Dame Anne said that she herself had been absent from the commons for six months as she recovered from phyiscal illness, but if she had been absent due to mental illness she would have had to stand down as an MP.

Charles Walker and Kevan Jones supported the bill, both have been widely praised for speaking out about their own struggles with mental illness . Mr Jones, MP for Durham North, said that the bill was not just for the benefit of MPs, but would help remove the stigma of mental illness from society.

Diane Abbott, shadow minister for public health, supported the bill saying it was a vitally important moment for the commons to help "lift the veil of stigma" from mental illness.

Chloe Smith, minister for political and constitutional reform, said the bill had the government's full support. Ms Smith said the bill was an important part of the government's mental health strategy and would play its part in changing social attitudes towards mental illness.

Story Tools

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific