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Adult Autism Strategy

Volume 590: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2015

7. With reference to his Department’s publication “Transforming care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital”, published in December 2012, if he will take steps to ensure that the statutory guidance implementing the adult autism strategy uses clear language and is mandatory. (906959)

The revised autism statutory guidance will be written in clear and accessible language. It will include existing obligations from the 2010 strategy and recent legislation such as the Care Act 2014. Local authorities and NHS bodies are required to take the guidance into account, or provide a good reason for not doing so.

The Minister will be aware that, under the Mental Health Act 1983, people with autism can be compulsorily detained for assessment and treatment although there is no evidence of mental illness. Will he join the National Autistic Society and others in endorsing the Justice for LB Bill campaign and seeking to end that wholly unacceptable practice?

The right hon. Gentleman has raised an incredibly important point. I, too, pay tribute to the campaigning of Justice for LB. We are strengthening the guidance relating to the code of practice under the Mental Health Act, and that strengthened guidance will be published shortly. We are considering whether amendments to the Act are needed, and we are also drafting a Green Paper. I should be happy to discuss the issue further with the right hon. Gentleman, and to have further meetings with campaigners.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is clear evidence that homeopathy is effective in treating autism, especially when doctors have not found a solution? Now that the Society of Homeopaths is regulated by the Professional Standards Authority, will he make more use of homeopathy in the health service generally, and in this particular instance?

The hon. Gentleman’s question is quite a long way from the statutory guidance, but it can be given a brief reply.

I have to say that I was not aware of the information provided by the hon. Gentleman. I should be happy for him to send me more information, but I make the general point that it is always important for us to base our decisions and expenditure on evidence.

Would the Minister be prepared to discuss with his counterparts in the devolved regions the need to ensure that clear language is considered essential, and that best practice is replicated throughout the United Kingdom?

I am happy to make sure that we liaise properly with the devolved Administrations and it is important for officials on both sides to ensure that the language is as clear as possible across the United Kingdom.