The Mental Health (Scotland) Bill passed its final stage in the Scottish Parliament yesterday with the minister in charge accepting that it is of limited scope but undertaking that it is not the end of the process of reform.
"I am aware that some members would have liked wider issues to be included. The bill is not a full stop at the end of a process, and I am happy to put on record my commitment to certain further steps", Jamie Hepburn, the minister, said in moving the stage 3 vote, which was unopposed.
The bill principally implements the recommendations of the McManus report of 2009. Among other provisions it aims to increase the use of advance statements, and strengthens the position of such statements so that service users will have greater confidence that their views will be taken into account; it provides that a service user will have a named person only if they want one; and it extends the right of appeal against being detained in conditions of excessive security to those who are detained in medium-secure units (though not also, as some wanted, to those detained in conditions of low-security.
It also introduces a victim notification scheme for victims of mentally disordered offenders, similar to the scheme available to victims of other offenders under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003.
Amendments seeking to achieve the removal of learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders from the scope of the mental health legislation were defeated, but Mr Hepburn affirmed the Government's commitment to reviewing that issue and said it had "started to discuss with stakeholders how we can undertake that engagement".
He concluded: "I also recognise that, beyond the bill, there is more to do. The bill is only part of the work. Members can be reassured of my commitment to doing everything that the Scottish Government can do to ensure a better sense of mental wellbeing throughout Scotland."