Ministers are preparing to allow people labelled “idiots” and “lunatics” by archaic laws to stand for parliament.
Though it may come as a surprise to voters, laws dating back to Elizabethan times bar this category of people from becoming MPs.
Idiots are defined as those “incapable of gaining reason” and lunatics as people only “capable of periods of lucidity”.
The rules ban lunatics from standing as MPs in “their non lucid intervals”. They also ban anyone sectioned under the Mental Health Act from standing for parliament, even if they have made a recovery.
A survey of MPs found that 27% had experience of a mental health problem. One in three said the stigma had stopped them being open about it. MPs have to give up their seat for life if they are sectioned for six months.
Bridget Prentice, the justice minister, is to consult on scrapping the laws after complaints from MPs and mental health charities that they are discriminatory.
(Any commentary by me would be superfluous)