‘Of unsound mind’? MPs, mental health and the 1886 Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act

The History of Parliament

Today, during Mental Health Awareness Week, we hear from Dr Kathryn Rix, Assistant Editor of the Commons 1832-1886 Section and the Victorian Commons blog. She explains the legislation that bound MPs suffering with prolonged periods of mental illness from 1886 until legislative reform in 2013…

In 1886 Parliament passed the first piece of legislation dealing directly with the mental health of its members, the Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act, which received Royal Assent on 10 May. This measure, which passed with very little debate, laid out the procedure to be followed in cases where an MP was ‘received, or committed into, or detained in any asylum, house, or other place as a lunatic’. After being informed that an MP was in this position, the Speaker would send two commissioners of lunacy (or the equivalent Irish or Scottish officials) to visit and examine the MP. They would report to…

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About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at https://utopiayouarestandinginit.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/why-call-my-blog-utopia-you-are-standing-in-it/

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