World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act 1886

Article Id: WHEBN0023242438
Reproduction Date:

Title: Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act 1886  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1880–99, Charles Leach, John Bell (British politician)
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act 1886

The Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act 1886 (49 Vict.c.16) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided a mechanism for a Member of Parliament who was judged to be of unsound mind to be removed from his seat.

Background

There had been a number of cases of Members of Parliament who were felt, in the language of the time, to be lunatics. The most celebrated of these was John Bell the MP for Thirsk who in July 1849 was found to be insane by a commission of enquiry. It was then discovered that there was no way of depriving him of his seat and he remained a Member until his death in 1851.[1]

In January 1886 Charles Cameron (later Sir Charles),[2] known in the House of Commons as Dr Cameron, introduced the Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Bill to deal with the problem.[3] His determination was such that despite being a private members bill it went through all its Parliamentary stages with little opposition,[4] in less than five months and received its Royal Assent on 10 May 1886, hence becoming the Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act 1886.[5]

The Act

The Act was very short, barely more than a page long; and containing only three paragraphs.

It states what should happen if any member of the House of Commons should be committed to a lunatic asylum:

All those involved with the committal must send a report to the Speaker of the House of Commons or face a fine.

The Speaker should send the reports to the Commissioners in Lunacy and that two of them should visit the member and report to the Speaker. If the report is that he is of unsound mind then after six months the Speaker should request a further visit. If this second visit shows that the member is still of unsound mind then the reports are placed on the table in the House of Commons and at that point the seat of the member is declared vacant, and a byelection is called for his replacement.

Consequences

In practice there was a reluctance to call on the Act and it was only used once in the rather special circumstances of the First World War. An election was overdue and during the hostilities it was impossible to hold one. In August 1916, in these circumstances, Charles Leach the MP for Colne Valley was declared of unsound mind and relieved of his seat.

Repeal

The Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act 1886 was repealed and replaced by the Mental Health Act 1959; the Mental Health Act 1959 was itself repealed and replaced by the Mental Health Act 1983. The section was subsequently repealed by the Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013.

References

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.