Mental Health Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 19th February 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Ramsbotham Lord Ramsbotham Crossbench 3:30 pm, 19th February 2007

My Lords, I welcome the amendment in principle, but I share the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, that the principles it contains do not go as far as those which we discussed in such marvellous detail on Second Reading and in Committee. I am speaking particularly on behalf of one other minority—those in custody. I have not discussed the movement that has happened since the Committee stage between the Minister and the noble Earl, Lord Howe, but I have taken soundings from those who are responsible for the delivery of mental health services to those in custody. They are all very concerned that codes of practice do not tend to apply, whereas principles may.

The reason why principles are so important is that the Government made great play of the fact that those in custody should receive exact equality of treatment with those outside. Unless that equality is enshrined in principle, I can see all sorts of reasons and excuses why that should not apply. Therefore, although the amendment goes so far, I hope that there is still time to make certain that those in custody and their needs are enshrined in principle somewhere in the Bill. The well of psychiatric morbidity in our custody system is something this country needs to take care of and should, frankly, be ashamed of.